Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Burma drown as crisis deepens


First one body appeared, floating in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, then another, and another, until those on board the little fishing boat that had gone to their rescue began to lose count.

Those bobbing lifeless among the waves had set out the night before, so desperate to escape the growing sectarian violence in Burma that they were prepared to risk boarding the dangerously overcrowded boat.

At least 130 had clambered aboard, but the boat foundered – whether it capsized because of the weight of bodies or because it struck rocks remains unclear.

The sinking last week was the worst reported incident resulting from the outbreak of violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. The death toll is continuing to rise amid reports of a deepening humanitarian crisis.

“The situation is dire. The UN is doing its best, but it is trying to find more funding to help them,” said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, an NGO working with the Rohingya.

With at least 32,000 people displaced by the latest violence – and at least 107,000 since trouble broke out in June – thousands have sought safety in refugee camps around the Burmese town of Sittwe. Those camps are at crisis point, according to Refugees International, which estimates that nearly a quarter of children were malnourished.

“Conditions in these camps are as bad, if not worse, than ones in eastern Congo or Sudan,” said Melanie Teff, a researcher with the charity who visited Sittwe in September. “Child malnutrition rates are startlingly high. There’s an urgent need for clean water and food. If further aid does not come through, there will be some unnecessary deaths.”

Written By: Gethin Chamberlain
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  1. This is from a BBC article:

    “Rakhine Buddhists have a different story to tell. They repeat the
    accounts spread by word of mouth or through internet sites of gruesome
    Muslim atrocities, and occasionally bring out blurry photographs of
    mutilated corpses.

    But theirs is a much longer story, of chronic neglect by the
    central government, and of what they believe is uncontrolled Muslim
    population growth, which threatens to swamp them. They are frightened of
    the spread of extremist Islamic ideas, especially among young Rohingya
    men who have lived in Saudi Arabia.

    Ashin Ariya Vunsa, abbott of the old Shwe Zedi monastery in
    Sittwe explained why, in his view, the communities could no longer live
    together. The Muslims take too many wives and have too many children, he
    said – and they abuse Buddhist women too. They don’t allow women to be

  2. …and of what they believe is uncontrolled Muslim population growth, which threatens to swamp them. They are frightened of the spread of extremist Islamic ideas, especially among young Rohingya men who have lived in Saudi Arabia.

    Frankly, screw their concerns. Fear of others’ beliefs doesn’t justify ethnic cleansing. Nothing does.

  3. What happened to Buddhist preaching of non-violence? Are reasons given by “Abbot of Monastery” Ashin Ariya Vunsa, if believed to be true, are justification of mass killilng by Buddhist? He just proved that there is essentially no non-violent religion.

  4. “Rakhine Buddhists have a different story to tell. They repeat the
    accounts spread by word of mouth or through internet sites of gruesome
    Muslim atrocities, and occasionally bring out blurry photographs of
    mutilated corpses.

    Of course, who even thought that this violence is not a reaction to islamic barbarianism and islamic lifestyle trying to be enforced on everyone else?

  5.  When the day arrives that a Muslim country donates aid to a non-Muslim country I might think about caring.

  6. Children dying from malnutrition isn’t enough to make your care? I know there’s an awful lot of hostility towards Muslims on this site, but your comment is icy cold even by those standards. I guess it’s the kids’ own fault for choosing Islam as their religion.

  7. An apologist for ethnic cleansing, pathetic. Blurry photos, you say? Well, that’s good enough for me, especially if the Buddhists produced and explained them. Also, are you aware that, under Burmese law, the Rohingya are limited to two children per couple? So how exactly is the situation an uncontrolled Muslim population growth? Moreover, Burma’s regime refuses to issue identification cards to Rohingya Muslims, which are necessary to be able to travel, as well as to obtain passports and enrol in higher education. So it’s the Muslims stopping women from being in education? Jesus wept.

    Aside from the aforementioned forms of discrimination inflicted on the Rohingya, they are denied land and property rights and ownership. The land on which they live can be taken away at any time.  The Rohingya people are barred from government employment.  They are subject to forced labour, extortion and other coercive measures. Public services such as health and education are neglected. The illiteracy rate for the Rohingya  is 80%. More than 40,000 Rohingya children in western Myanmar are deprived of rights to travel, go to school or to marry in the future, because their parents had an unauthorized marriage.  The Rohingya are subject to curfews and other restrictions on basic freedoms.

    Among the crimes against humanity the Myanmar military regime is committing against the Rohingya are: denial of citizenship, imprisonment in displaced persons camps, widespread murder of civilians, denial of the right to travel, denial of education rights for children, and denial of food and medicines.
    This has been going on for decades

    Still, I guess Muslims are fair game eh? There is some of the worst kind of relativism at work here: genocides are awful and must be stopped, but they are kind of OK and justifiable when Muslims are the ones being exterminated.

  8. Yes. That’s exactly what I’m thinking, Metamag. Prior to these latest events, Buddhist monks in their saffron robes were just peacefully marching to demand the government take action. They made a point of  underscoring that they had no problem whatsoever with the Chinese illegals for a comparison: those would leave the Buddhists alone. Yes, this violence is disgusting, but it seems that Muslims have a knack for bringing it about by their incredible intolerance and their own brutality. Nothing new. They did raze Buddhist monasteries and massacre Buddhist monks in industrial quantities when they came to India a few centuries ago.

  9. As posted in the other whiny article about the poor Rohingya, this situation is the result of there being a Islamic religious insurgency since the 1940ies.

    Talking about turning a blind eye as soon as Muslims are involved: What AI calls “armed opposition groups” are mujahideen fighting for an Islamic state, supported
    by Hekmatyar, the Taliban and any other Deobandi and Wahhabi idiot on the Indian

  10.  Thank you for the link! I’m going to print it right now and read it carefully later today…

  11. Neither children, dying, nor malnutrition are high on my list of things to care about regardless of race or religion. As far as suffering is concerned the only tears I’ll shed are for the natural world,and I’ll continue on my misanthropic way for as long as the human species continues the destruction of itself and everything it comes into contact with.

  12. I’m really disgusted by some of the people on this site sometimes. I suppose it’s my own fault for expecting better things from atheists than I do others. Jesus wept.

  13. Katy, I couldn’t agree with you more. 

    I’m officially sickened.  These are human beings we’re talking about, men, women and children, not some disposable Muslim horde. 

  14.  No it is not, but your ability to research matters and try
    to understand a political situation by reading one Wikipedia article is most

  15. What’s so special about men, women and children be they Christian, Muslim, Atheist or any other self identifying label? Nothing. As a species we’re inherently evil so therefore undeserving of sympathy. I’ll help those in need (and have done, most likely more than the majority of posters in here) but only because it is the right thing to do.

  16. Thank you for the entire four words on topic and the most reasonable assumption that posting one link is equivalent to having considered only the one page it represents.

    Were there facts in the Wikipedia article so inconvenient that you did not bother addressing them at all?

  17.  Wow! I have now finished reading  the Wikipedia article carefully and I must say that the facts are even uglier than what I had imagined. I must be some kind of positive thinker!   🙂

  18.  The fact that these are Muslim is irrelevant. I’m as harsh a critic of Islam as they come, but these are HUMAN BEINGS, and I am for one disgusted that many of my fellow atheists are cheering at the deaths of their fellow human beings.

    Shame on you all.

  19. I used to have some sympathy for Muslims in such situations, but reading the first 10 pages of the Koran killed it stone dead. If they really believe that misogynistic crap, and that non-Muslims are an out-group only worthy of disdain, it’s no wonder people hate their guts. And that’s only the first 10 pages. Go on and read it, sympathisers, I dare you.

  20. Um, no.  They seem to be the ones fleeing the violence in this case. 

    James, was it you who removed the Talmud comment? 

  21. Comments here shows that atheists are as capable of irrationality, cruelty and vindictiveness as religious people.

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