Burma's ReligionBurmese religion
Burmese Minister of Religion's words too serious to be ignored
An officer giving an interviewer in which he names members of an whole religion less as nationals of his state. Circumstance sounds like Nazi Germany, but they describe today's Burma. Aung Ko, the new Minister of Religious Affairs, a former army general, said to Voice of America that although Tibetan Christians are "full citizens" of Burma, Muslims and other minority groups are considered "associated citizens" only.
The message is that Muslims are aliens who do not merit the full right of Burmese people, or even that they are subhumans. Then the Minister of Religious Affairs visited U Wirathu, the extreme-leaders of Ma Ba Tha, the lead extreme group black listed in a US 2015 budgetary law.
While he bowed to the extreme Buddhist friar, the secretary proposed a financial contribution. It will be better for the recently democratically elected administration to call on this Secretary of State for "Religion" to step down. Unfortunately, the new secretary follows the old "solution" of the former Burmese president, who formally called on the United Nations to relocate all Rohingya Muslims to a third state.
Rohingyas are tribal peoples who live in their traditional lands and have always been civilians and have chosen and electoral leaders in Burma until the racial and anti-Islamic policy of the army regimes has deprived them of civilians. In the aftermath, several hundred thousand Rohingya refugees have escaped to neighbouring lands after their houses were burnt down and several thousand of them died.
President Obama and others have demanded the restoration of Rohingya nationality. And, as chairman of the Burma Task Force USA, I led a meeting at the Nobel Institute for Peacemaking last year when seven Nobel Prize winners described the prosecution of Rohingya as "a book case of genocide".
The" religious" minister's testimony creates a fictitious class of" associated" nationality & formally extends state-sanctioned Islamophobia beyond the Rohingya people to other Muslims in Burma. The Rohingya Muslims were the primary targets of hatred and fanaticism, while other Myanmar Muslims were also severely discriminated against and attacked.
Myanmar Muslims believe they are about six million; almost half of them are Rohingya and the remainder are Chinese-speaking Muslims on the Chinese frontier, Muslims with Hindu inheritance and even Muslims who are ethically Myanmar, the vast majority of Burma people. As Burma has recently been subject to a UN policy of refusal by the Chinese authorities to comply with the UN regulations, there is no genuine way to determine the actual number of people.
There are also about 10 ethnical groups, mainly Christians, who fight with weapons for their right in Burma, where the ethnical groups make up almost 30% of the people. Only Rohingya and other Moslem minority groups are not engaged in any kind of warfare. Rather than reward their fight for peace, the Myanmar authorities are the ones who are most persecuted.
Which kind of messages do they give to the Muslims in Burma? Sadly, Norway, which leads the Burma peacemaking effort, has all Burma's gunmen at the negotiating machine without the Rohingya and other non-violent nationalities. Negotiating with and rewarding those who use non-violent means for their liberty, rather than forcing them into the dreadful military conflicts that other communities in Burma have had to choose.
It is crucial for Burma's new administration, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to be able to demonstrate its commitment to liberty and equality for all people in Burma during the first hundred years. When it does so quickly, pointing out that the National League for Democracy in no way supports Mr Ko's anti-Muslim mess and that action is being taken to prevent Mr Ko from proclaiming this feeling or turning it into a politics, it will really mean that Burma is going to change.
There must be no reduction in the transformation progression from militarist to pluralist democracies - with the same benefit for all human beings, all as full members of society. The Burmese constitution enshrines full nationality for non-Rohingya Muslims, which states that Islam is a recognised religion of Burma. Furthermore, it says: "The Union can support and defend to the extreme the faiths it recognises.
" There is no mention in the Constitution of these "associated citizens" and this idiom should be immediately given up. Rather, the Myanmar authorities should take measures to defend these afflicted minority groups and to uphold their integrations with the wider population. Myanmar Muslims must stay full-bodied as the new administration will also restore the nationality of Rohingya.
It is the Burmese season to be open to all Burmese.