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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/23/2013 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Burmese police stand by as Muslim shop owner engulfed in flames

In a horrifying example of sectarian violence that is wracking the Asian nation of Myanmar, video footage of  Burmese Buddhist rioters setting fire to a Muslim man has recently been uncovered, where a voice is clearly heard saying "No water for him! Let him die!" Several policeman look on, but fail to act.

The video accompanied the publication of a report by Human Rights Watch, which concluded that Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing Muslims.

The video accompanied the publication of a report by Human Rights Watch, which concluded that Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing Muslims.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/23/2013 (11 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Burma, Myanmar, sectarian violence, anti-Muslim, Buddhist


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Filmed by the police in the city of Meiktila, the video depicts one of many intense clashes between a gang of Buddhists known as the "969 squad" and Muslims last month which left 43 people dead.

The man is seen rolling around on the ground in agony after being set alight by an angry mob. His body charred, he's still alive and moves slowly as a crowd surrounds him. Policeman can be seen looking on. The grisly incident was reportedly sparked after an argument between a Muslim gold shop owner and his customers in the city of Meikhtila.
 
The video accompanied the publication of a report by Human Rights Watch, which concluded that Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing Muslims.

Anti-Muslim sentiment in Burma has led to the formation of the "969 squad." The number "969" symbolizes elements of Buddhism. While Burma chiefly a Buddhist country, eight to nine percent of its 60 million people are Muslim.

Muslims there are referred to by the derogatory term "kala."

One of the founders of the anti-Islamic movement here is Ashin Wirathu, a monk who was jailed in 2003 for inciting anti-Muslim violence. Released last year as part of the broader amnesty for prisoners, he admits that while he was in Meiktila, he insists he played no part in the violence.

Wirathu urges Buddhists all over the country to boycott Muslim businesses and accuses Muslim men of repeatedly raping Buddhist women, of using their wealth to lure Buddhist women into marriage, then imprisoning them in the home.

An underlying fear of Muslim success appears to be driving the discrimination.

"They - the Muslims - are good at business, they control transport, construction. Now they are taking over our political parties. If this goes on, we will end up like Afghanistan or Indonesia," he says.

The unleashing of ethnic hatred, suppressed during 49 years of military rule that ended in March 2011, is challenging the reformist government of one of Asia's most ethnically diverse countries.

Jailed dissidents have been released, a free election held and censorship lifted in Myanmar's historic democratic transition. The government here has faced mounting criticism over its failure to stop the bloodshed between Buddhists and Muslims.

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