Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 13:49 Written by Than Htut Aung
A scene of debris resulted from previous conflicts in Meikhtila Township (Photo - EMG)
I pointed out last week in my article that Yugoslavia’s Milosevic regime was toppled as a consequence of extreme nationalism. The bloody massacre of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina forced an intervention NATO troops. Although the situation is not the same as Myanmar’s – nevertheless, there is a risk of a parallel history.
Associated Press News Agency recently featured an article entitled “Massacre of Muslims in Myanmar Ignored” written by Todd Pitman.
The article says the situation reflects the reality that despite Myanmar’s bid to reform – the power remains concentrated in the hands of an ethnic Bamar, a Buddhist elite group that dominates the government machinery.
It cannot be said that the AP story conclusion is quite right. What kind of Bamar is dominating the government?
At this state, those making sacrifices for Myanmar to propel reform should not be ignored. There are so many people who are sacrificing their lives, those who were jailed and those who were oppressed and even those with daily life hardship.
What does “only” Buddhists’ dominated government mean? Does it mean distribution of power in line with the religious purpose? Hyper-nationalism about Barman has been used as a descriptive context of Buddhists and terror based on religious conflicts.
In the AP article, the writer wrote and ignored those who opposed dictatorship for over five decades, and the public who are still in a daily struggle. The writer writes as if there exists a rule of law and it brings happiness only to Buddhists. But, for sure, no one is happy yet. Nevertheless, the writer is not all misled, his sense on Buddhists’ dominance on the government is a fruit for thought!
The violence on Muslims in Taunggup and murder of 30 students in Meikhtila Islamic Religious School are more severe than the usual crimes. These cases could not be exposed so far. The seven-year punishment for the guilty ones is certainly not enough. These are crimes against humanity. If power is distributed based on religious consideration as a means of solving the Bengali problem besides the racial problem, this is not a positive sign. Myanmar is not yet a flourishing-democratic state. The people are still trying escape from dictatorship, and press freedom is limited.
The government’s formation is a quasi-civilian one, and the ambition of establishing a ‘federal union’ is still a long way away. The Constitution does not allow public leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to become president. More than 95 percent of the population lives in poverty, while the ethnic regions are still rounded with the sounds of gunfire.
Coupled with those dire situations, religious conflicts have emerged between Buddhists and Muslims as the Bengali problem is spotlighted among the international community. That problem has damaged Myanmar in the eye of the international community.
We cannot say those creating such problems are solely a handful of people hungry for dictatorship. There are various incidents of danger.
It is true that the Bengalis are being persecuted and they are stateless and poor. However, there are millions of poorer ethnic people who are being forced into slavery or other countries as migrants as well.
It is true that the Muslims are facing discrimination. We don’t like it. I don’t like the boycott of Muslim-owned businesses. Now, I intentionally buy things from Muslim-owned shops. In reality, standing-by the Muslims cannot help to relieve the anger and discrimination of the majority. And neither does the conflict shows signs of stopping.
We have interfaith gatherings and celebrations. Can they help to forge close relationship among the different religions? The majority of the poor do not like those in power as well as their cronies. People in other towns and cities are of the view that businessmen of different races and religions have become rich in collusion with the authorities.
Furthermore, people believe that the number of Islam worshippers have doubled within the last two decades. There has been a rise in the number of Islamic religious schools and mosques. Moral lessons and basic Buddhism courses have been opened to counteract this trend.
In reality, most Myanmar people more or less have national spirits. If this is to be compared with human rights and democracy, there will be a reverse effect. Comparing Buddhism and monks with terrorism, the terrorist attack at Bodh Gaya, and the murders of Myanmar nationals in Malaysia…these are the negative signs.
Sometimes I think about what would happen if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the president and beset with these issues, instead of current President U Thein Sein.
How would she handle the overriding power of the military which can take over civilian power in a state of emergency? Actually, the Muslim issue is not only a religious issue. It is not an issue concerned only with Myanmar.
It worries me when I see that this issue has been gradually twisted as a regional agenda. The Bamar practices chauvinism. They oppress Muslim minorities and ethnic races. Since these accusations have been on the rise, it is not good for Myanmar's prospects.
We must strongly object to ultra-nationalism while rejecting accusations against Buddhism, monks and the Bamar people. Will Myanmar become a democratic country which is targeted by terrorists and is overwhelming by internal violence and terrorism?
This fire can blaze up more than the instigators can expect. We know where it started and where it will go. We must put out the fire.
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