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    Burma Govt Accused of Participating in Genocide

    Panelists pictured
    at the FCCT in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo: Lance Woodward)
    Irrawaddy News:
    May 11, 2013
    The Burmese
    government is conducting a concerted campaign of genocide against its Muslim
    minorities, with Buddhist monks and the state collaborating in violent
    anti-Muslim attacks, the academic and activist Maung Zarni said during a panel
    discussion at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok on
    Thursday.
    “It’s nothing short
    of genocide,” he said. “Genocide is a process that unfolds; it’s a virus that
    spreads quickly into a contagion that cannot be stopped. What has happened in
    Burma in the last two years is evil, vile and depraved,” he said.
    The genocide in
    Burma is now on the scale of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, he added. “And it won’t stop
    until all the country’s Muslims and Rohingyas are eliminated.”
    These are
    challenging times, Burmese Muslim leader Myo Win said. He runs an education NGO
    called Smile in Rangoon, and came from Burma especially to attend the seminar
    to provide first-hand testimony of the situation facing Muslims in Burma.
    “It’s not a
    communal or sectarian conflict, it’s a one-sided, targeted and often deadly
    attack against Muslims, under the purview of state authorities,” he said.
    “Community leaders are spreading hostility and hate against Muslims, through
    the distribution of pamphlets and propaganda …verbal abuse, harassment and
    violence,” he explained.
    Inside Burma there
    is a state of fear among the country’s Muslims, he said. The violence against
    the Rohingyas in Arakan last year and then the attacks on Muslims in central
    Burma have left most Muslim communities feeling vulnerable and scared.
    But according to
    eye-witnesses inside Burma, the Muslim community has begun to fight back.
    Barricades have been set up near the Muslim quarters in Rangoon and citizen
    patrols are being conducted.
    The Thai Buddhist
    social activist Sulak Sivarksa was much more measured in his comments, but drew
    a stark comparison between the role of monks involved in the 2007 Saffron
    Revolution and those in the Buddhist nationalist 969 movement. The monks in the
    2007 uprising were willing to lose their lives for the good of society, he
    said, but the 969 monks are spreading hate.
    The monks behind
    the 969 movement say they are reminding Buddhists of their core values and draw
    comparisons with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia, which they say
    were originally Buddhist countries that were overrun by Islamists.
    “Fear is the source
    of many problems in any society,” said Sulak. And with Burma’s transition to
    democracy, and the increase in freedom that has accompanied it, traditional
    prejudices and unruliness have inevitably risen to the fore, he added.
    The teachings of
    Buddha are very clear, he said: You can never harm anyone, but first you cannot
    harm yourself. A Buddhist must overcome fear, must learn to love, even the
    oppressors, and never stoop to violence. “Buddhism and nationalism are
    incompatible,” he said. “Nationalism is an extension of selfishness…not to be
    tolerated or condoned.”
    Buddhists must have
    compassion; they cannot be quiet and sit on the fence, they cannot turn a blind
    eye, said Sulak. But this is exactly what is happening in Burma today, stressed
    Myo Win.
    “The state’s
    silence and inaction has been deplorable,” he said. They are responsible for
    the safety and security of the Muslims, but instead they seem to be complicit
    in the pogroms, he added.
    Those involved in
    the violence have not been arrested, and their campaign against Muslims has
    been allowed to continue unhindered. They are puppets of a bigger master, he
    suggested.
    During the panel
    discussion, reference was made to President Thein Sein’s televised speech to
    the nation, in which he insisted that the government would take preventative
    measures and increase security and that all Muslims would be protected and
    allowed to worship freely.
    But Zarni simply
    dismissed the president’s pledges as worthless. “Thein Sein is a world-class
    liar,” he stormed.
    He was also
    critical of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who he accused of “thunderous
    silence” on the issue of sectarian violence.