Burma’s Shame

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from TIME Magazine,

More than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to live in camps, where disease and despair have taken root.

The Muslim Rohingya population of Burma has been described in a UN report “as the most persecuted people in the world.” To look at international businessmen flooding into the country’s five-star hotels in search of lucrative deals, the idea that Burma is hiding the crime of ethnic cleansing, might seem ludicrous. Yet a succession of reports from human rights groups and the United Nations itself, has described a deliberate campaign of violence and deprivation against the Rohingya which ought to shame the Burmese government. It ought to shame foreign entrepreneurs into paying off their rooms and heading for the airport. It ought also to shame foreign governments who have turned a blind eye to what has been happening, but who have instead been busy welcoming a once-isolated and closed Burma back into the international community.
The most astonishing political myopia is taking place. Last year Burma’s President Thein Sein was actually given a peace award by the International Crisis Group, in recognition of his leading the country away from military rule toward democracy. This ludicrous recognition may have had something to do with the looming political presence of the Nobel peace laureate Ang San Suu Kyi, whose long passive resistance to a harsh military junta was so admired. But even she has failed to lead the sort of campaign on behalf of the luckless Rohingya that might have been expected on an international figure of her stature. Instead she has allowed her endorsement of the political transformation to give “comfort” to international investors, anxious to profit from Burma’s markets and abundant natural resources.

Let there be no doubt about it; the persecution of the Rohingya has been systematic. Led by Buddhist bigots belonging to a racist movement known as the “969” (a reference to the “virtues of Buddha”), there has been a concerted effort to target Burma’s Muslims, including the Rohingya, who together make up some five percent of the population.

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