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Terror in Burma: Violence against Muslims

Buddhist monk U Wirathu

By Tim King
December 28, 2013

Hundreds of Rohingya people have been killed; tens of thousands were forced from their homes and live as suffering refugees in Internal Displacement Camps (IDP's) where disease is rampant and food and shelter are scarce.

"Terrorist" groups are frequently the banter of network news anchors and analysts; yet few in America devote time to the terrorists of Burma who have behaved treacherously toward the Muslim population for a year and a half now, due to old simmering hatreds and a desire among the majority population to live in a Buddhist only country. The Buddhist answer toward their frustration with having to live with Muslims, is most vividly expressed in the "969" movement led by a Buddhist monk named U Wirathu; which propagates false information that in turn damages the fragile existence of Muslims in this country that was locked down under a military junta for so many years. While all Muslims are threatened, the Rohingya Muslim people are at the center of the Buddhist's gun sites.

Wirathu is now an abbot in Mandalay's Masoeyein Monastery, an expansive complex where he leads about 60 monks and has influence over more than 2,500 residing there. Free from a prison sentence and back in a place of influential power, he is again preaching hatred and intolerance. "Many monks are highly influenced by his hateful messages, and are directly involved in genocidal campaigns against the minority Muslim population in Myanmar. They are also supported by government agencies at all levels - from local to central," noted Rohingya Muslim political leader, Dr. Habib Siddiqui.

The nightmare for Burmese Muslims started a year ago last July, when Buddhists claimed that one of their women was raped and murdered by Muslim men. Her ravaged and damaged body was posted online and in Buddhist press and only a day after this was reported, ten Muslim men in a completely different part of the country were pulled from a bus and murdered in broad daylight by a Buddhist mob. 

Three young men were arrested for the woman's murder and they all died in custody. There was no trial, their role in the woman's death was never proven. There is wide speculation that the woman's death had nothing to do with any Muslim man, and that it was a set up to spark the Genocide that has been sweeping Burma, now called Myanmar, ever since.

Hundreds of Rohingya people have been killed; tens of thousands were forced from their homes and live as suffering refugees in Internal Displacement Camps (IDP's) where disease is rampant and food and shelter are scarce.

As these acts of barbarity and government terrorism have plagued the Rohingyas, Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi have signed business deals and planned the corporation exploitation of this virgin country in Asia. Neither have raised their voice to end the violence. Suu Kyi was viewed as a world peace leader prior to this current saga where she sides with the Buddhist majority, members of which continue their campaign of terror to eliminate the Rohingya people.


The stories about the boat people are horrendous. Those fortunate enough to reach Bangladesh are given a bag of rice and a bottle of water and turned around... literally sent back to the sea, and their deaths in many if not most cases.

In October 2012 reported: "After floating for 3 consecutive days with limited to no supplies, Rohingya boat people from Arakan finally attempted to land near Shamapura Island of Bangladesh this afternoon.

"But misfortune is following after them and the Bangladeshi border security forces blocked them from landing on their soil. After having a long and keen request with tears, when they failed approaching to the Bangladeshi, they at last drove their boats out toward Maungdaw where brutal Burmese forces are in standby to prevent the landing and drive out them.

"All the boats are sighted at the middle of Naf River yet as they are unable to land on either side, not in Burma nor Bangladesh."

In the article "Are Rohingyas and Kamans Less (Than) Human Beings?", M.S. Anwar wrote: "Had Bangladesh wanted it, they could have solved the problems of Rohingyas long ago and repatriated the thousands of Rohingyas living in the country by taking the sociopathic Burmese leaders to international dialogues or international courts for denying the history of Rohingyas and true history of Arakan. If Bangladesh can do it, it will be the win-win situation for both Bangladesh and Rohingyas. But Bangladesh doesn’t do it for the lame hopes of more profits to be gained from maintaining a good relationship with Burma. So Rohingyas have no choice but to take perilous sea voyages for wherever they feel and believe they will be given refuges and breathing spaces. However, all of their hopes of respites and refuges are but all over soon after their journeys start."
The Rohingya people are also rejected from other countries with no regard for their humanity. The bottom line is that they are a stateless people, and their situation is getting worse. Burma is a country that has lived under military government for a very long time, and this has impacted educational and social understandings in ways that western people can not begin to imagine. Persecution is nothing new in Asia, but the Rohingya story is off the charts in terms of international Human Rights law violations and Crimes Against Humanity. The lucrative potential of today's Myanmar is too much for those with an eye on exploitation to ignore. 
Unwanted, punished for being who they are, the Rohingya people are dreading the politics of Myanan Sayadaw U Thaddhamma. He is leading a movement to build hatred toward the Rohingya in a blatant and sickening way that Buddhist people all over the world should stand against. So much for meditation and incense, the Buddhists of Burma have become a Nazi like commodity and there is little outcry from within the Buddhist community, likely because of the associated danger that could become a knife in the back of Muslim sympathizers.

I have personally reported the torture death of a Rohingya man. This happened inside of a government jail. An expert Human Rights physician confirmed that the man had literally been tortured to death:

"We do not know his name but we can imagine how difficult the last weeks of his life were. We do know that this man was from Anaung Pyin Village, in Ra Tha Taung Township. The government arrested him after the outbreak of violence. From what we have been told, he was held for the last part of his life, in Sittwe jai. Here, we are told, the man had been tortured since his arrest by police and Rakhines; pulled away from whatever family and friends he may have had, and his life has been something akin to a horror movie ever since. Through consistent torture and a lack of medication he passed away on 13th October 2012."

In October of last year, we reported that Dr. Nora Rowley, a Human Rights Physician who lived in Burma for years, observed that the violence, "is looking more like Bosnia and true Genocide every day rather than ethnic cleansing."

In an article just published by The Irrawaddy, Lawi Weng writes that the 969 movement, led by the Mandalay-based monk U Wirathu, has become extremely controversial in the past year after launching a nationwide campaign claiming that Burma’s minority Muslim population is threatening the Buddhist majority. 

"The monks, who are deeply revered in Burma, have called on Buddhists to shun Muslim communities and buy only goods from Buddhist-owned shops. The sermons are considered hate speech and have been linked to outbreaks of Buddhist mob violence against Muslim communities throughout Burma."

The most recent outbreak of deadly inter-communal Buddhist mob attacks happened in Thandwe Township last October. That violence was preceded by sermons organized by the 969 movement. While it seems hard to deny the connection between the 969 monks and the ethnic tension, the 969 movement's U Thaddhamma, says the movement’s activities in the region are not contributing to escalating tensions, adding that the monks were allowed to travel and spread their message by local authorities.

"We did not hold talks to create any problem," he said, before claiming that the Muslims had initiated the inter-communal violence in Burma in the past year. "They were first people who started the violence. Then, when they were suffered, they blamed our 969 monks," Thaddhamma added.

Often described as Myanmar's Neo-Nazi group, organizers of 969 claim that the three digits "symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community."

In an Asian Tribune article, Dr. Habib Siddiqui explains that the 969 movement was launched by Wirathu, known in Asia as "The Burmese bin Laden," in 2001, "It draws its inspiration from fascism and Nazism and is racist, bigotry-ridden and apartheid to the core calling for boycott of anything Muslim the same way Jews of Germany were depicted and treated in the 1930s and 1940s until the fall of Hitler."

Wirathu is apparently wising up to the image he is creating for himself, his movement and all Buddhists, as he conducts his hatred under that banner. Here are some of the incidents that define this man:

- He launched a campaign to pass legislation on marriages between Buddhist women and Muslim men that would require the women to receive prior permission from their parents and authorities and the men to convert to Buddhism. This is a stark violation of international law.

- As a result of Wirathu's actions in 2001, several mosques were destroyed by Buddhist monks. The sporadic violence which included killing of several Muslims and destruction of Muslim properties and mosques would continue until 2003 when he was arrested.

- Wirathu distributed anti-Muslim pamphlets that incited communal riots in his birthplace of Kyaukse, a town near Meikhtila. At least 10 Muslims were killed in Kyaukse by a Buddhist mob, according to a U.S. State Department report.

- In 2003, the Mandalay-based monk received a 25 year sentence for inciting anti-Muslim hatred, but was released last year under a general amnesty, far before his release date.

- "We have a slogan: When you eat, eat 969; when you go, go 969; when you buy, buy 969," Wirathu declared at his monastery in Mandalay. (Translation: If you're eating, traveling or buying anything, do it with a Buddhist.) This apartheid 969 creed led to sharp increase in anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, especially after the Bamiyan statues were destroyed by Taliban in March of 2001.

Dr. Siddiqui says it is widely believed by Dr. Maung Zarni and many other independent researchers that the government of Thein Sein, "is using Wirathu and his terrorist monks, with wide support within the Buddhist society, to do what it could not do officially. Thus, the crimes of Wirathu cannot be separated from those of Thein Sein. They are in collusion."

The odds of Rohingya people finding justice in Myanmar seems dismal at best. When leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi fail to raise their voice, the process becomes daunting. 

Wirathu's Buddhist peers in Saffron Revolution

U Gambira, aka Nyi Nyi Lwin, led the "Saffron Revolution" democracy uprising in 2007 that was crushed by the Burmese military. He told Reuters that if the government was serious to stop anti-Muslim pogroms, it could do it. 

"In the past, they prevented monks from giving speeches about democracy and politics. This time they don't stop these incendiary speeches. They are supporting them," he said. "Because Wirathu is an abbot at a big monastery of about 2,500 monks, no one dares to speak back to him. The government needs to take action against him."

Dr. Siddiqui said, "Last year in May-October when Rohingya Muslims were killed in the Arakan state, the Buddhist monks played major roles not only in inciting violence against them, they allowed their monasteries to be used as arms depot and also participated themselves in the slaughter. Government security forces and ultra-racist Rakhine politicians also participated in such raids. The anti-Muslim pogroms last year led to the death of hundreds of Muslims and homelessness of nearly 140,000 Muslims in the Rakhine state."

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