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8 Ulama and 28 Madrasah students amongst the massacred in Burma

Azhar Vadi 
Cii News
March 27, 2013

“There are reports of many people dead. It’s very difficult to give an exact number,” said Mabrur Ahmed from the Restless Beings organisation looking into human rights issues and violations in Myanmar (Burma). “But I can give you an example of one such massacre that took place. A mob of Buddhists extremists came inside a madrasah (Islamic school). They killed 8 Moulanas (Islamic scholars) and along with that they killed and burnt 28 madrasah students, young boys, as well. “ 

Attacks against Muslims in the country have in the recent past been directed at ethnic Rohingyas, a community that the Burmese government does not recognise as legal citizens. Last year, 5000 were killed by rampaging Buddhist gangs, drawing worldwide attention to their desperate situation. So serious and gruesome were the mass killings that the United Nations labeled the Rohingya as the most oppressed people in the world. 

But this week’s attacks in the town of Meikhtila have shown a worrying new development. “These Muslims who were killed in Meikhtila were Burmese citizens. They have been established in Burma for hundreds of years if not thousands of years. So these are not foreigners, these are their own people,” explained Ahmed. 

The violence has now taken on a dangerous, general anti-Muslim sentiment and has no longer been confined to just a Rohingya issue. “The monks are leading with this. And specifically there is a particular monk who is an ex-prisoner, he has an army background. He is called Wirathu and he is openly and aggressively anti-Muslim. He has accused Muslims of having mixed motivations for being part of the greater society in Burma and has incensed a lot of this violence,” said Ahmed 

In the last week 18 000 people have been displaced. While Ahmed said that Muslims have tried to defend themselves and have refused to give up their lives without a fight, they have in no way provoked the Buddhists. 

“The reason why this attacked happened is almost unknown. We have been trying to trace the reason as to why this has happened. The best explanation we can come up with, was that there a disagreement between a Muslim gold shop seller and a Buddhist customer who went and reported this to his monastery and it somehow managed to spiral,” he said. 

Using the apartheid South African example, Ahmed described the situation in Burma as something much worst. “We are talking about Nazi Germany where people were indiscriminately killed because they did not fit the bill of Aryan Germans. That’s what we are talking about in Burma.” 

The government has shown total apathy to the crimes carried out by the Buddhists citizens. There are reports that security authorities stood by and watched the unfolding violence and only acted after two days following an order from central authorities. 

Narrowing it down to the Rohingya again, Ahmed said. “The president of Burma, Thein Sein said the only solution is that the Rohingya are shipped out to third countries. Now that’s not ‘like’ ethnic cleansing. That is ethnic cleansing. The head of the state is saying you people are not welcome so throw you out to another country. And the history of these people shows that they have been in that country for 1200 year. To put that into context, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was living 1400 years ago.”

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