Thomas Fuller’s June 2013 article in the Asia Pacific Section of the New York Times confirms that the Rohingya are faring no better than they ever have, as monks speak out against the Muslim minority.
Extremism Rises Among Myanmar Buddhists
TAUNGGYI, Myanmar — After a ritual prayer atoning for past sins, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk with a rock-star following in Myanmar, sat before an overflowing crowd of thousands of devotees and launched into a rant against what he called “the enemy” — the country’s Muslim minority. Ashin Wirathu denies any role in riots in which Buddhist mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes. But his critics say that at the very least his anti-Muslim preaching is helping to inspire the violence.
Unfortunately, the Times is getting crafty and I can’t reprint many of the sections of this article that I’d like to, but the statements by this supposedly enlightened man are so incendiary that my blog would probably just disappear in a puff of smoke.
Here are a few highlights:
“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu said, referring to Muslims. “I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers , . . I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist.”
Buddhist monasteries associated with the fundamentalist movement, which calls itself 969 [three digits that monks say symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community,] . . .What began last year on the fringes of Burmese society has grown into a nationwide fundamentalist movement whose agenda now includes boycotts of Muslim-made goods. Its message is spreading through regular sermons across the country that draw thousands of people. Ashin Wirathu says Buddhism is under siege by Muslims who are having more children than Buddhists and buying up Buddhist-owned land.
There is wide disdain in Myanmar for a group of about one million stateless Muslims, who call themselves Rohingya, some of whom migrated from Bangladesh. Hate-filled speeches and violence have endangered Myanmar’s path to democracy, raising questions about the government’s ability to keep the country’s towns and cities safe and its willingness to crack down or prosecute Buddhists in a Buddhist-majority country.
In his recent sermon, [Ashin Wirathu] described the reported massacre of schoolchildren and other Muslim inhabitants in the central city of Meiktila in March, documented by a human rights group, as a show of strength.
“If we are weak,” he said, “our land will become Muslim.”
Buddhist lynch mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes. Ashin Wirathu denies any role in the riots. But his critics say that at the very least his anti-Muslim preaching is helping to inspire the violence.
The Dalai Lama, after the riots in March, said killing in the name of religion was “unthinkable” and urged Myanmar’s Buddhists to contemplate the face of the Buddha for guidance.
Apparently they have not taken that advice.
The responses, from a listserv I subscribe to, are heartening, but at the end of the day, international outrage seems to be doing nothing to get the Myanmar government to put an end to this disgraceful and inhumane practice.
“Sad and disgusting. . . . It would have been nice to think "we" Buddhists were different, but that would have been drawing the kinds of distinctions against which Buddhism warns.”
“That Wirathu [leader of the Buddhists attacking Myanmar's Muslims] speaks from his dark side (we all have one) is one thing, but that he has great influence over others-- this is disastrous.
“Cults & their leaders are found throughout time & space. It catches our attention, however, when for example a group, like Buddhists, who are associated with gentleness get linked to hate/violence. When the human mind. . . is obscured like this, everything from discrimination to atrocities happen.”
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