A (new) series of atrocious violence is shaking Myanmar. According to the United Nations – as reported by Reuters -, only in the latest weeks about a thousand people have been killed: these belong to the Rohingya Muslim minority. Pope Francis and, before him, many influential politicians have appealed to the Burmese government and to the international community in order to put and end the long-standing violence. But nothing seems to be stopping the barbaric violence of the military, despite the deposition of the junta that has governed Burma for more than half a century and the formation of a democratic government. The elections of November 2015 have decreed the victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD). At the head of the movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, – historical heroine of human rights and Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 – who has entrusted the leadership of the country to Htin Kyaw, president of the party. Interdicted by the Constitution, San Suu Kyi could not take up the office of Prime Minister in the new government, in which she is Foreign Affairs minister. The main objectives are the new trade relations with foreign countries and constitutional reform. But many urgent issues must be addressed as soon as possible by the government as the demand for autonomy and protection of the rights, advanced by the minorities and the difficult compromise with the Tatmadaw Kyi officers, influential members of the Burmese armed forces. Many of them have held position in the junta who ordered the violence that led to the social division, threatening the country’s stability.
A bitter religious conflict has been fighting in Myanmar for many years. A serious threat to the social, political and economical safety, which could undermine the democratic transition process. Balances are skipped as well as the protection of ethnic and religious minorities. In the last years, the Buddhist radicalism has been ramping among the political élites of the nation, concerned with the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Southeast Asia: the repressive measures ordered by the central government have led to the birth of many armed groups in various parts of the country, especially in the East. The situation appears ambiguous: in a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, several Nobel laureates and some former ministers are asking to Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the brutal ongoing repression and to take a position of strong condemnation against the army.
A video posted on YouTube by some Burmese soldiers some weeks ago, reveals what western media and non-governmental organizations have been reporting for so many years: daily militaries strike Islamic communities, destroying villages and committing acts of violence and rapes. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been denouncing the repressions ordered by the Burmese government in a large number of places in the country, where minorities are more deeply rooted. More specifically in the State of Rakhine, in the West of the country, home to most of the Rohingya. The United Nations estimate that more than 65,000 Rohingyas, have tried to leave the country. To date, one third of them, about 22,000, has managed to get into Bangladesh while most overcrowded refugee camps in southern part of Myanmar, in precarious conditions, hoping to emigrate to Malaysia. The latest news highlight the commitment of the Malaysian government to send aid to the threatened Muslim minority. Euronews writes: “A Malaysian vessel, carrying much needed food and medicine for the members of Myanmar‘s persecuted Rohingya Muslim community, it has arrived in Yangon. The hope now is the aid reaches its destination.” The emergency due to the migration flows in and around the country alarms the neighbouring nations, scared by the arrival of thousands of migrants. To understand the current situation, we have to go back a few years: in 2012 the appeal of the Buddhist monks against the Muslim minority has reopened the long-standing dispute, producing a new escalation of violence. The alliance, signed in the same year between the Burmese Buddhist movement 969 and his Sri Lankan counterpart Bodu Bala Sena to meet the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, aimed to strengthen the nationalist sentiment through a fierce propaganda. Bangladesh is the main destination for religious minorities fleeing Myanmar. The country has welcomed about 120,000-140,000 out of a total of 800,000 Rohingya living in Myanmar. The situation has not improved with the election of Aung San Suu Kyi, maître à penser of the Burmese people. The non-violent activist, who has been working for years in the struggle for human rights, has not broken the silence of the violence. <<After the historic victory of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama had removed the sanctions against Burma. A move that turned out to be premature>>, writes the New York Times in a recent article. The government, led by former President Thein Sein, had made a formal commitment with the international community to address the Rohingya issue and, more generally, the complicated coexistence among ethnic and religious minorities in the country. The end of the US sanctions and the opening of new trade relations has not coincided with greater guarantees of individual rights. “Most of the Rohingya – as underlined by Amnesty International in 2015-2016 report on Myanmar – remained in effect deprived of citizenship rights under the 1982 law on citizenship and suffered severe restrictions on the right to freedom of movement, access limited to life-saving health care and denial of rights to education and equal employment opportunities.” The document also notes: “There were continued reports of arbitrary arrest and torture and other ill-treatment of Rohingya in detention, as well as deaths at the hands of the security forces.” A shameful silence that covers an unacceptable violence.