Tuesday 22 July 2014

This Group Faces Terrifying Persecution, And You May Have Never Heard About It

Anti-Muslim sentiment has a long history in Myanmar, dating back to the colonial period when large numbers of Indians followed the British into the country, as theCrisis Group details in its report. Many of them were Muslims, although Hindus and members of other religions moved in as well. Tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State became violent for the first time during World War II, when the Rohingya supported the country's colonial rulers and the Buddhists sided with Japanese invaders.
Violence and repression flared in the decades that followed and intensified in earnest in the spring of 2012. The rape of a Buddhist girl by several Muslim men set off a wave of reprisal violence in Rakhine State, and members of both communities took part in attacks.
Months later, in October of 2012, a new wave of violence by ethnic Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims broke out, this time in a much more organized way. Local authorities and extremist Buddhist monks riled up Rakhine's Buddhist majority, releasing pamphlets that demonized the Rohingya and public statements that called for their expulsion. Buddhist mobs responded by razing and torching Muslim villages, forcing the inhabitants to flee for their lives.
More than 200 people were killed in the violence of 2012, and about a hundred thousand people -- mostly Muslims -- were forced to leave their homes. The majority ended up in segregated makeshift camps, where their movements became more restricted than ever before.
The following year, attacks spread to the center of the country and were no longer restricted to the Rohingya community, instead targeting Muslims as a whole. Dozens of people were killed and entire neighborhoods destroyed in two waves of riots in the spring and fall of 2013.

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