Burma is India's eastern neighbour and became free at about the same time as India. It was also under British rule and much of Burma including rail and other developments is courtesy the British Raj. the population of Burma is 53 million and 90% of the this is Buddhist. The remaining are Hindus, Christians and Muslims. However while the Buddhists do not harm the Hindus and Christians they are up in arms against the Muslims. The views of the Burmese are articulated by  the lady Aung San Suu Kye, who stated that all over the world the Muslims create fear for other communities and its but reasonable that Buddhists fear the Muslims.

This is the root cause of the Muslim ( Rohingyas) and Burmese Buddhists. It is also an expression of extreme nationalism and one in which the Rohingyas have no place. The Rohingyas are a Muslim community  who have been living in Burma's east coast the Arakan for generations.  However the Burmese government has never given them citizenship and has even denied them basic privileges like food and water. Militant Buddhists who want to throw the Rohingyas out of Burma attack them periodically  and its not uncommon for Rohingya girls to be kidnapped and taken away for sex. with the army and the police just bystanders. Sometimes even the soldiers do the same thing and hunt for young Muslim girls. However it must be mentioned that the Rohingyas did ask for a separate state for Muslims  in the sixties , till general Ne Win crushed them.

The Burmese regard the Rohingyas as Bengalis and do not want to give them citizenship though some of the Rohingyas trace their lineage to 1400 AD, when the first Rohingyas landed on the East Coast. This persecution is having its effect and has led to the present unprecedented crises, where thousands have tried to escape from Burma to Malaysia and Thailand. Thousands have died on the sea and it is feared that thousands are still afloat in the ocean. The South East Asian countries are reluctant to take in the Rohingyas and Australia has flatly refused to resettle a single Muslim.

The Rohingyas are thus stateless persons and many are kept in camps in Eastern Burma in miserable conditions. The United States has put pressure on Burma to give citizenship to the Rohingyas, but Burma has flatly refused.On the contrary the Buddhist clergy rants regularly against the Muslims and and there does not appear to be any way that the crises of the Rohingyas can be solved. Burma has flatly denied to take  back the Rohingyas who are on the high sea and has washed its hands of all responsibility. 

There is a resurgent Buddhism which is showing its militant face. It's a face that was  never seen earlier. The Buddhists feel that the Muslims with their laws of 4 wives will multiply and be a threat to the Buddhist community. They say they will not allow it. One thing is clear, Burma has not buckled under international pressure. The Rohingyas being stateless persons do not have the right to vote as well.

The action of the Burmese is in sharp contrast to India where the Congress party  has put forward reservation policies in jobs and education for Muslims. What an extreme, that is food for thought.


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