Is Burma regime inciting Rakhine conflict to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi?

Jun 12, 2012
Edward Loxton

Conflict between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims could force opposition leader to make an unpopular intervention

CHIANG MAI – As sectarian violence continues unabated in Burma's westernmost state of Arakan, suspicion is growing that the clashes between Buddhists and minority Muslims are part of a government plot to discredit the hugely popular opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and weaken the threat she poses to its military-backed power base.

"The violence is clearly well orchestrated and not as spontaneous as we are being led to believe," said Burma expert and author Bertil Lintner, whose latest book, Great Game East, is about to be published. The book deals with "the power play in the eastern border regions of the Indian subcontinent".

Dozens have so far died and hundreds of homes have been burnt down in a week-long wave of deadly clashes between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine communities along the western, Andaman Sea coast, of Burma.

Religious and racial tensions have always run high in this backward state - known in Burmese as Rakhine - where the Rohingya minority are denied many basic rights, even Burmese citizenship. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, most of them men, have fled, either overland to neighbouring Bangladesh - where they are classed as illegal immigrants - or even in open boats to Thailand and Malaysia.

Burma observers are asking why the long-dormant tensions have broken surface at this point in time, when a newly-elected government in the capital, Naypyidaw, is winning international approval for the small advances it is making in the areas of political liberalisation and human rights.

"The answer is plain to see," Lintner told The Week. "The government is very worried about the support commanded by Suu Kyi. It wants to force her into a position where she has to make a pro-Rohingya public statement that could damage her popularity among Burma's Buddhists, where anti-Muslim sentiment runs high. On the other hand, if she remains silent she will disappoint those who support her firm stand on human rights."

A long-time observer of the Burma scene, who requested anonymity, agreed.
"Suu Kyi is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't," he said. "She is in a very difficult situation, which could seriously damage her reputation and erode much of her popularity."

Maung Zarni, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, agreed that the government could benefit from the crisis because it diverted attention from its continuing military efforts to subdue other restive ethnic groups.

Fighting is particularly fierce in Kachin State, where Lintner recently toured the Sino-Burmese border area and confirmed that up to 300,000 Kachin refugees had sought shelter in China from bitter fighting between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army.

Lintner pointed out that the Arakan crisis comes at a critical time for Suu Kyi, just as she is preparing to leave on a European visit, starting on 15 June.

"She will be expected to make public statements on the violence in Rakhine State," he said. "This is such a difficult challenge that she might even call off her trip to Europe."

Suu Kyi was further embarrassed this week by anti-Rohingya statements by two human rights activists who were previously among her staunchest supporters.

"The Rohingya are not a Burmese ethnic group," said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the now-disbanded 88 Students Generation activist group, who was recently given an amnesty after serving five years' imprisonment for defying the former military regime.

"The root cause of the violence… comes from across the border and foreign countries," he said.

"This is astonishing stuff coming from a supposed human rights activist," said one Western observer. "Such statements go a long way to support the belief that the government is trying to manipulate opposition circles wherever it can in order to sabotage Aung San Suu Kyi."

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minority Muslims ? you better go and see before you make an article of those conflict.

"Religious and racial tensions have
always run high in this backward state - known in Burmese as Rakhine - where
the Rohingya minority are denied many basic rights, even Burmese citizenship.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, most of them men, have fled, either overland
to neighbouring Bangladesh - where they are classed as illegal immigrants - or
even in open boats to Thailand and Malaysia."



In this case, I really upset for this paragraph. This issue
is not about the human rights. Rohingya are just the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
They never included in the ethnic groups in Myanmar. If you want to see the
truth, you should go and take a look in Rakhine state. The only thing that the
rohingya do in our country is making terroristic threats. People all around the
world are very hard to know about the actual condition since the media such as
BBC, VOA, RFA and DVB release the faked news.

See how quick the Myanmar Islamophobes are to get their message out? Expertly organised. Really sad.

It could also be a ruse to distract attention from China's on going resource imperialism in the north including work on the Myitsone dam, ostensibly stopped by Thein nSein.. but Zhang Boting the head of China Hydropower is a ranter who shouts opponents down with the sort of Middle Kingdom hubris we have come to know and hate. They are accused of funding the ongoing battles in Kachin State and may be keen to get the international community to bugger off so they can keep stealing trees, gold, jade, animals, and manufacturing drugs.

This is the most ignorant perspective I have ever
read among the western media and so-called analysts. They speculate and write a
story with bit and pieces of pigeonholed information. They don't know how much
both the government and NLD are coordinating together to break the circle of
violence and prevent the outbreak of religious confrontation. They have no clues
how 88 generation leaders are playing a critical role to minimize the
destructiveness of ethno-religious strife. As a Burmese, I am worried of such
bad and speculative reporting which incites more distrusts and hatred in our

This article is designed to corner Daw ASSK before she starts her Europe Tour, and writer used many assumptions to pave the way for her to make a statement on this Bengalese-cum-Rohenger status favourably. Please do field research neutrally and see what ethnicity they are. They will reply in their tongue "Amara Bengali". Many NIGOs in border areas in Arakan State are pro-Muslim groups and they hate native Arakanese. I have personal experience.  

Dear author, I don't think the happening now is religion conflict. 

Do you really know the situation in there? If you don't, you shouldn't write the article like this. If you or your family members were in there, how would you feel? If you want to know what is really going on there, you should go there and find out what's really going on. If you're an expert writer, you won't write an article like this. 

So everything and anything that goes wrong in Burma is a conspiracy to embarrass Aung San Suu Kyi?  

She's not really the story here.  This sounds like sensationalised speculation. Does anyone really care what comments she makes?  Maybe she should stay home and try to do something to help - she's part of the ruling elite now.  She can go to Europe any time.      

 This is not the religious and racial issue. I have many Muslim friends and they disagree the acts of Rohingya. Even Myanmar Muslim are ready to fight with Rohingya Muslim if they are demanding our state of land. We are just defending our real Ethnics and our land. They are terrorists. Please help Burma. Don't just sit back and write news. Look outside and find reality.

Rohingya? What is rohingya? This word never exist in history. It was just invented by Bengali a few decade ago!

The week, Really? you are asking Maung Zarni, he is bloody supporter for Jihadi Terrorist in exchanges of money from those illegal Jihadi Terrorists, And minority Muslims?  Do you know how many illegal immigrants from Bengali?  Will you consider them as minority? have you guys forget about what UK prime minister said for terrorists?  Do you know why this is happened? These people are having relationship with groups that "promote the export of terror" Al Qaeda. They have burn down most of our houses and kill most of people. And they want to conquer the land! Stop posting news without real details.

The Chinese are still very much present in Burma, for example at Kyaukphyu (which is near where the rape incident happened), where they are building a deep-sea-port as their gas/oil terminal (and probably also for their Navy). There are gas deposits offshore on the Arakan coast and the Chinese are building a pipeline all across Burma to send that stuff to Yunnan (they are in a hurry before these "reforms" in Burma really take hold) and of course there are close "corruptive and coercive" ties between Chinese "businessmen" and the former generals (mainly through bribery). Of course, I don't know for sure but I'm just speculating like Bertil Lintner!

I agree. The Chinese are interested in the gas deposits off the Arakan coast and they are  building a gas/oil pipeline across Burma to Yunnan with a terminal at Kyaukphyu (near where the "alleged" rape happened). This sea-port in Arakan is also going to serve them as a naval base I think. Besides the former generals still have close ties (through bribery mainly) with China.
I'm just saying!

 BDC, most of your members came to the UK illegally and claimed Asylum. Some of you now have permanent residency in the UK.

I am pretty sure that the period of residency of most rohingya in these conflict area is much longer than the period of you guys living in the UK.

Now you are suggesting to put the fence(I suppose you prefer electrified one)along the border.

Can you kindly tell me what the difference between you and these people immigration status if you want to accuse them of illegal immigrants?

I would suggest the UK government to stop all the benefits given to their  members as they are no longer the defenders of human rights they used to claim.

Before you ask, I am not a die-hard rohingya supporter. I am just an open-minded ethnic Burmese who do not believe everything I see in the domestic or foreign media.

We the people of Myanmar support 
88 Students Generation activist group and Ko Ko Gyi's words. I challenge everyone who claim the existence of Rohingya to perform DNA analysis on these terrorists. Bangali DNA sequence is in their blood.

One can hardly find any human rights activists in Myanmar but they are, in my own word, their rights activist who define democracy as- "of only us, for only us, by only us and human rights as our rights!" In fact, I'd like to call them racists who have genocidal tendency in the form of human right activists. Or else, how can they trigger other people to commit massacres no matter whoever they are. 

You stupid dumb! What proofs do you have to accuse Maung Zarni as a supporter of Jihadi. Don't just bluff since you have a mouth. Don't show your lower standards and sick mentality. For the racist people like you, DASSK will also become a supporter of Jihadi if she says anything against the violence of the government against the Muslims in Rakhine state! I am a Buddhist too but I don't go such extreme because Buddhism teaches peace and not the fanatic racisms triggering by people like you!

I wonder why these filthy people with sick mentality come to our countries in Europe and seek asylums and citizenships at a time when they don't recognize and hate other people's existence in their country despite around 100-year-old existence of these  Rohingyas or Bengalis or whatever! These racists should be ashamed of themselves. 

If you see Rakhines leaving Muslim family not a human right issue, then what is it? You're probably not thinking right at the moment or have no perspective as to what is important. In this case religion or ethnicity does not matter. What matters is these people have lived there for generations, and the rakhines have destroyed any liitle rule of law possible. Simply a disgraces to the Rakhines and the govt. on their politics. SHAME!

 If you see Rakhines leaving Muslim family not a human right issue, then
what is it? You're probably not thinking right at the moment or have no
perspective as to what is important. In this case religion or ethnicity
does not matter. What matters is these people have lived there for
generations, and the rakhines have destroyed any liitle rule of law
possible. Simply a disgraces to the Rakhines and the govt. on their
politics. SHAME!

 Haha, you alone have shown what a Rakhine Mog thinks like. There will never be rule of law if you keep on playing the blame game. Good Luck.

 Hey BDC, I think you should take of your mask. It is the other way round, where Muslims are being Killed. Your putting a statement that makes u look like the good guy. Well you have just failed.

 Who cares bengali or not, people are dying. And all you can say things that cause more hate.

 Joint Press Release

9th June




We, the undersigned
Rohingya organisations express our deep concern over the ongoing grave
situation in Arakan causing great consternation to the people.


It appears that
the   communal tension arising out of the lack of
rule of law in Arakan was engineered by the regime and its local Arakan State apparatus.
This was further evident by the gunning down of Rohingya Muslims who were
peacefully marching for a prayer for those Muslim pilgrims cruelly killed by
Rakhine terrorists in Taunggup on 3 June 2012.


In fact, it was
absolutely unnecessary on the part of the authorities and the armed forces to obstruct
the mourners to say their prayers peacefully. But the shooting was a clear sign
to ignite communal tension between the two communities.


However, it is deplorable
that there have been killing of innocent people, destruction of houses and
properties from both sides which could be well prevented by the government. At
least 100 innocent Rohingyas were believed to have been killed while many
others injured. Never the less, the government of U Thein Sein is fully
responsible for the untoward situation.


It is unfortunate
that media groups are bias producing one sided reports against the helpless
Rohingyas. We, therefore, request local and international media groups to find out
the facts and produce true information.


We appeal to all our
compatriots in general and the Rohingyas and Rakhines in particular to exercise
maximum restraint in the interest of ‘peaceful co-existence’ in  Arakan and Burma. Meanwhile, we urge upon the
religious leaders, politicians, MPs and fellow citizens to actively pursue
peace and reconciliation in Arakan and Burma.  


Last not least, we
demand that the government immediately constitutes an independent and impartial
inquiry commission to investigate the case and bring the culprits to justice.


Signatories to this
joint statement:



National Democratic
Party for Human Rights (NDPHR)

Arakan Rohingya
National organisation (ARNO),            

Burmese Rohingya
Organisation UK (BROUK),    

Burmese Rohingya
Association Japan (BRAJ)               

Burmese Rohingya
Community in Australia (BRCA)        

Burmese Rohingya
Community in Norway (BRCN)          

Burmese Rohingya
Association in Thailand (BRAT)       

Rohingya League for
Democracy Burma (RLDB)

Your statement pretty much says it all. U don't want other ethnicities in Burma. Hence the term Racism comes to mind. But Challenge accepted. What's your next move?

I am rakhine from that area. Those Rohingya muslims are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and beheaded local people, burning villages, seperate landclaim and  sheria law. From now on, there are no security for local rakhine people anymore. Media are bias because current US policy would like to satisfy arab and Human right groups are funded by middle east oil money.  

How can you write like this ? Do you know about Rakhine ? What is the Rogingya , where are they come from ? What is there language and their religion? You want to write this essay , you must know about all. Now you don't know anything and you write this. What is human right , if you want to follow human right to Rohingya please quickly bring in to your country . We all support to you and thank to you. Do you know now alots of our relative , Rakhine was attacked by your Rohingya terrorist. A lots of Rakhine peoples are homeless because of these terrorist.

What is happening to the Rohingya in Arakan State is state sponsored genocide. The Tatmadaw border force, Na Sa Ka, has systematically deprived the Rohingya of their basic human rights to include the freedom to travel, practice their religion, and to marry.  The Rohingya have also been the subjects of forced labour, and many other abuses.  What is also important to note that there has been an ongoing program of creating 'model' villages in Arakan State that brings residents from central Burma Arakan to displace Rohingya from their land and to further incite violence against them.

As one can readily see from reading the posts of those whose comments are based only on racism and ignorance, one cannot discount the possibility that the Tatmadaw will try to further inflame the situation so that any voice of reason that supports that supports the rights of the Rohingya will be subject to the same attacks that you see here.

This is highly speculative.

It does serve the military in many ways. Change the direction of the attention form the Kachin who they are really trying to annihilate on their own admission, Chinese who are just at the verge of the public angst, poor economic state, ongoing severe land grab, industrial dispute, .....

Still, if they can demonstrably stop the violence of ALL sorts in the west and more importantly rebuild ALL the communities to be peaceful and productive, they would be due much respect and enthusiastic help.

Let's pray they can.

Meanwhile Kachin is a different matter altogether. They simply can stop the killings as if they stop, it stops.

BDC is a group of racist ignorant scoungers.

You Jerk .....son of bitch.Knowing nothing,Don`t write anything motherfucker.

Wanna Horrible Death?Be careful.