The Myanmar military, with the active encouragement of its government has led a campaign of brutal mass killings, rape and displacement against the Rohingya people of Rakhine state. Hundreds of thousands have fled across the border to Bangladesh, in what is now considered to be the fastest mass displacement of people since Rwanda:
The ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingya peoples from Rakhine state has destroyed thousands of lives, and displaced hundreds of thousands. Children have been directly impacted by the violence, with hundreds dying while fleeing the violence, and many more killed by Myanmar troops. This video from Unicef is heart-breaking, and there has been much, much worse violence inflicted on young children.
"I think they shot me by mistake. They meant to shoot big people." pic.twitter.com/GZ3QOIM3dK
— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) October 21, 2017
The systematic ethnic cleansing has also destroyed reputations.
Myanmar prime-minister/state-counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will no longer be remembered as a former political prisoner and advocate for democracy. That legacy has been destroyed, and rightfully so.
From this point on, she will be remembered as yet another politician who sought power by dehumanizing people and stoking pogroms. Ms. Suu Kyi is not merely silent in the face of widespread ethnic cleansing led by her army. She has actively defended those committing these atrocities by claiming “terrorists” are misinforming the world about the mass killings of Rohingya.
The Rohingya have faced discrimination in Myanmar for decades, with several cycles of violence directed at them by the military. Most Rohingya supported Suu Kyi’s NLD party in elections. Many believed a government led by Aung San Suu Kyi would protect their rights. They have been firmly disabused of that notion.
He dreamed she would bravely face down the military and welcome the Rohingya back to their homes as citizens.
The first part came true. But sitting in a decrepit shack in the refugee camp in Bangladesh where he now expects to live the rest of his days, he had only disappointment for Suu Kyi.
“She’s made a deal with the devil,” he said. — www.washingtonpost.com/…
Social media messaging has driven much of the rage in Myanmar. Though widespread access to cellphones only started a few years ago, mobile penetration is now about 90 percent. For many people, Facebook is their only source of news, and they have little experience in sifting fake news from credible reporting.
One widely shared message on Facebook, from a spokesman for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, emphasized that biscuits from the World Food Program, a United Nations agency, had been found at a Rohingya militant training camp. The United Nations called the post “irresponsible.”
The Myanmar government, however, insists the public needs to be guided.
“We do something that we call educating the people,” said U Pe Myint, the nation’s information minister. He acknowledged, “It looks rather like indoctrination, like in an authoritarian or totalitarian state.”
The NY Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman reported on the results of this indoctrination:
In the next violent blur of moments, the soldiers clubbed Rajuma in the face, tore her screaming child out of her arms and hurled him into a fire. She was then dragged into a house and gang-raped.
By the time the day was over, she was running through a field naked and covered in blood. Alone, she had lost her son, her mother, her two sisters and her younger brother, all wiped out in front of her eyes, she says. — www.nytimes.com/…
Such violence and persecution does not happen in a vacuum, they require sustained dehumanization supported by major institutions in a society. These conditions have existed in Myanmar for decades. The military, state and religious figures have conspired to demonize and dehumanize Rohingya peoples over several years. Reuters reported on one of the most prominent anti-Rohingya Buddhist monks four years ago:
The Buddhist extremist movement in Myanmar, known as 969, portrays itself as a grassroots creed. Its chief proponent, a monk named Wirathu, was once jailed by the former military junta for anti-Muslim violence and once called himself the “Burmese bin Laden.”
But a Reuters examination traces 969’s origins to an official in the dictatorship that once ran Myanmar, and which is the direct predecessor of today’s reformist government. The 969 movement now enjoys support from senior government officials, establishment monks and even some members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), the political party of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Wirathu urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim shops and shun interfaith marriages. He calls mosques “enemy bases.” Among his admirers: Myanmar’s minister of religious affairs.
Earlier today, the US government finally announced it would be stopping aid to Myanmar’s military. The EU is preparing to do the same. Indian PM Narendra Modi reportedly told Suu Kyi she risked destroying her reputation over the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. India has received tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in Bangladesh. Back in March, Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar.