“We have no right to speak, we are marginalised in the international arena,”opressed Rakhine Buddhists

Buddhists seek voice in strife-hit western Myanmar

by Amelie Bottollier-Depois, AFP, Oct 27, 2012

SITTWE, Myanmar — Disgruntled by international support for Muslim Rohingya in unrest-hit western Myanmar, ethnic Rakhine Buddhists are demanding recognition of their own plight and venting a rage that veers into racism.

But many Rakhine, whose state is one of Myanmar’s poorest, are adamant it is in fact they who have been wronged, first by grinding years under the iron-fisted junta rule and more recently by rising numbers of Rohingya on their land.


“We have no right to speak, we are marginalised in the international arena,” said Oo Hla Saw, general secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

In an attempt to push their point, hundreds have taken to the streets in recent weeks. Led by robed Buddhist monks, the demonstrators openly spoke of their desire to drive out the Muslim minority.

They also protested against plans by the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to open an office in the country.

“We can live with many kinds of people, but not with the Muslims from here,” said U Ohattama, a senior monk at Klak Kha Mout monastery. “The Muslims from here are like animals.”

Many in Myanmar rail against the presence of around 800,000 Rohingya in their country, viewing them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.


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