Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Wednesday, 4 September, 2013 - 
Muslim Buddhist tensions in South Asia
Ashis Biswas
Rising Muslim-Buddhist tensions in South Asia are emerging as a new destablising factor in the regional as well as domestic security scenarios of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 
It is not as though distrust between large Muslim and Buddhist populations in these countries originates from the recent attacks on Rohingya Muslims in the resource-rich Rakhine province of Myanmar. But the controversial ethnic status of the Rohingyas and the communal violence surrounding it, have exacerbated old simmering tensions between the two communities.

India’s case is unique in that it is caught in a crossfire between two hostile communities. By rights, all issues relating to the Rohingyas and their settlement should have been discussed between Myanmar and Bangladesh. In the absence of minimal agreement between these two Asian neighbours, the international community should have stepped in. Normally, India should have had nothing to do with this business.

Unfortunately, that is not what has happened. In the aftermath of the recent serial explosions in the Bodh Gaya religious site, Buddhists in India are feeling jittery. According to media reports from India’s northeast, home to nearly 15,00,000 Buddhists, there is acute concern within the community over the safety and security of their monasteries and holy sites. 

A delegation of Buddhists leaders has already made representations to the governors of some NE states, outlining their anxiety after the Bodh Gaya serial explosions. They have drawn the attention of President Pranab Mukherjee as well. Such sites in the NE states alone number some 5000, not counting others in Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Buddhists have organised rallies in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh in recent times.

In Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, there are significant settlements of Chakma tribal Buddhists who were driven out of their native Chittagong hill tracts region by settler Bengali Muslims. Following an accord in 1997 with Bangla authorities, some returned to Bangladesh. However, complaints persist about their treatment. Before crossing over into India, they had been engaged in a civil war against the settlers and the Bangladesh administration. The situation has somewhat improved during the rule of the Awami League, but tribal leaders allege that official promises assuring regional autonomy for the tribals, their ways and customs have not been fulfilled. There is no serious effort to solve problems of land allotment, rehabilitation and settlement.

Some Rohingyas are known to have made their way illegally into India already. The Government of India has so far refrained from commenting on the problem of the Rohingyas, but that has not apparently insulated it effectively enough from getting involved into unnecessary diplomatic complications. A congregation of some 3000 displaced Rohingyas, organised with help from some academics of Jamia Millia University in Delhi some days ago, gave rise to questions about India’s security measures. Rohingya stragglers were rounded up from Barasat in West Bengal. These incidents indicated that within India, there were certain organisations helping Muslim escapees from Myanmar enter India. Asked about the numbers of such people, Kolkata-based intelligence sources admitted they had no idea! 

In Sri Lanka, where over 75 per cent people are Buddhists, Muslim shops and establishments have been attacked in recent times, as reports of the vandalising of Buddhist religious sites in Chittagong and elsewhere became public knowledge. As with native Burmese, the Sinhalese complain that the Muslims do not practice birth control. Over time, they begin to exercise an undeclared area domination, threatening local people and culture. Some time ago the Muslim Deputy Mayor of Colombo, Mr, Azard Sally, was arrested for allegedly making “communal” remarks and later released. Muslims allege that they constitute only 9% of the population, yet they are subject to much public anger and distrust, especially after the communal violence in Myanmar. The administration does not help.

Their relations with the predominantly Hindu-dominated Tamil Tigers was hardly cordial either. Some years ago from Jaffna, over 75,000 Muslims were forced to quit their homes bag and baggage, under threats from the LTTE. While the Tamil Eelam struggle has been defeated, many Muslims have not yet returned to Jaffna.

Tension between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the status of Rohingyas in the Rakhine province and the acutely hostile anti-Muslim stand taken by the Buddhist-dominated administration is common knowledge. Almost 80 per cent of the Burmese are Buddhists, the rest being members of 135 ethnic tribal groups like Kachins, Shans, Chins and others. The Rohingyas, taken to Burma by the British for settlement from undivided Bengal, are not officially recognized among local ethnic groups. This robs them of their civil rights as citizens, although some generations of Rohingyas have been born in Myanmar.

Bangladesh authorities point out that they have already accommodated nearly 250,000 Rohingyas who fled from Myanmar during earlier spells of violence. The country has neither the space nor physical resources to provide for more. Help from the international community has dried up. The extreme reluctance of the Myanmar authorities to address the question of the return and resettlement of the displaced people does not help either.

Recent global trends in renewed Islamic assertion, fuelled and fed by “social welfare” and “charitable” organisations based in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries have further complicated the case of the Rohingyas. A section within the community have developed terror links, having trained and fought in Pakistan, Afghanistan, against Soviet troops and participated in attacks in neighbouring countries. There have been muted demands within the resource-rich Rakhine province for an autonomous political status, which has not gone down well with an already suspicious and hostile Myanmar administration.

Even as the international community gropes for a solution to the intractable issues concerning the Rohingyas, India cannot afford to lower its guard concerning its domestic communal harmony and security. (IPA)

Monday, 2 September, 2013
    Rohingyas are  the indigenous people of Arakan. They have thousands years of history.As author says,it's not true that Britishers brought the Rohingyas from greater India to Arakan. The Author is sincerely advised to study history before British invaded India .
This is also true that a large quantity of Indian Hindu and Muslim Scholars ,service men and ordinary labors entered Burma during British periods. Most of them went back to their original home and some settled in Burma. Rohingyas are not among them .
    Rohingyas become political tool not only in their own home  but in South and South East Asia also. To grab our resourceful land ,the present authority started genocide against the peace loving Rohingyas. It's ethnic cleansing . The present regime of Burma master-mined it. It's now spreading in to neighboring countries .This become as if Buddhist Muslim tention  in the world. The dictator regime has to take full responsibility of instability in Asia. 
The radicalization in Asia is exported by Burmese guards. We,the a small moderate
Rohingya Muslim has nothing to do with this fearful tentions .

Maung Kyaw Nu,
Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand.

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