veryhot_post - What’s the connection between Buddhism and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar? - Asia | Middle East Author Topic: What’s the connection between Buddhism and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar?  (Read 629 times)

islander

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Re: What’s the connection between Buddhism and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar?
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2019, 06:07:24 PM »

The Al Jazeera documentary presents other monk leaders of the Saffron Revolution who claim Wirathu works for the government. These monks specify that Wirathu called them at their monasteries after they were released from prison in 2011, and invited them to come see him. When they went, they say he attempted to recruit them to join his anti-Muslim crusade with the offer of an office, complete with an Internet-connected laptop, a telephone, and a payment of $1,000 (in a country with a per capita income of $1,195). The film also shows a secretly taped mobile phone recording of a meeting between government officials and Ma Ba Tha clerics. Then, an anonymous acquaintance of Wirathu claims that Yangon’s Special Branch agency (undercover police) works closely with Wirathu, saying he has seen its members at Wirathu’s monastery in Mandalay. Further evidence is seen in a Powerpoint presentation used by members of the military at a training session in 2012 in the capital city of Naypyidaw, titled “Fear of Losing One’s Race,” a presentation in which the very same anti-Muslim language used by Ma Ba Tha is found, including the conspiracy of a Muslim plot to make Buddhism and Buddhists extinct. Other documents circulated among government officials and obtained by Al Jazeera warn of Muslim plots to rape Buddhist women, start riots, and carry out terrorist acts, including intentions to “cut off the heads of departmental staff members.”
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Re: What’s the connection between Buddhism and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar?
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2019, 06:09:44 PM »

The main point of the documentary is that, despite the apparent movement toward democracy, ethnic violence is engineered by the government in an attempt to keep its grip on power. Based on the evidence presented, it appears that the eruptions of violence against the Rohingya and other Muslim groups across Myanmar were organized and planned, not spontaneous, communal, or unintended consequences of democratization. While the government has dismissed any allegations of its links to the violence as “nonsense,” Stoakes writes, “Evidence obtained by Al Jazeera shows conclusively that the recent surge of anti-Muslim hatred has been anything but random. In fact, it’s the product of a concerted government campaign clearly aimed at promoting instability and undermining the opposition by stirring up the forces of militant nationalism.”

Stoakes responsibly notes that none of this evidence is clear proof of the connection between the government and Ma Ba Tha, but it is nevertheless illuminating. If the government has been corrupting men wearing the robes of a monk, then Buddhism is not being used as a rallying cry of hatred and exclusion, but merely as a veil for it.

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Re: What’s the connection between Buddhism and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar?
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2019, 06:15:03 PM »

In this crisis, the term “Buddhist” is used to designate cultural identity, not a religious belief or practice. Someone who identifies as a Buddhist doesn’t necessarily follow the teachings of the Buddha. Even back in the Buddha’s time, there were “bogus monks” who tried to join the sangha. These were not true monks but merely “men in yellow robes,” and were ejected from sangha gatherings. We should understand the situation in Myanmar as a cultural conflict rather than a religious conflict. As Azeem Ibrahim wrote, it is the exclusive nature of the Theravada tradition that often leads to “violent inter-ethnic tension in Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as Myanmar,” not Buddhism itself.

The military government of Myanmar is cynically using Buddhism to manipulate people to behave with violence and hatred, rather than compassion and generosity. In my experience, conversations about Myanmar tends to get mired in debate about whether Buddhism is a non-violent religion. Perhaps we should leave Buddhism out of the conversation. In order to focus on addressing the actual situation more effectively and responsibly, it’s important to understand the complex political and ethnic issues more deeply. With a deeper understanding, we might be able to engage with the situation more effectively.

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