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Hotbed of racism, hate crime: Southeast Asian minorities threatened

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/3/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Minority Muslims in Myanmar frequently targeted for violence

Racism and hate crime remains an ongoing problem in Southeast Asia. Myanmar's minority Muslim population, in particular, faces widespread discrimination and violence. The nation of Myanmar has ranked as one of the worst countries where minorities are most under threat for nine years in a row. Other Southeast Asian nations including Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia were singled out for growing ethnic tensions.

Sectarian violence broke out in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city this week. Hundreds of Buddhists - including monks - began throwing rocks at a Muslim tea shop owner accused of the rape of a Buddhist women.

Sectarian violence broke out in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city this week. Hundreds of Buddhists - including monks - began throwing rocks at a Muslim tea shop owner accused of the rape of a Buddhist women.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/3/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Rohingya, Muslims, Myanmar, hate crime, rcism, Thailand, Indonesia


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seventy countries worldwide were examined for dangers faced by racial, cultural and religious minorities in the annual State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples report. Published by Minority Rights Group International, the report presented case studies of ongoing persecution.

The only Southeast Asian country to make the "Peoples under Threat" index, Myanmar is ranked eighth of ten - putting it below Somalia, ranked first, Afghanistan, fifth, and Pakistan, seventh.

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In spite of the "gradual thawing" of Myanmar's government, the report found that there has been "growing hostility against minority Muslims.

"The most serious abuses have occurred against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state, but violence has also spread to other parts of the country, stoked by Buddhist extremist rhetoric. Most killings of Muslims have been carried out by local mobs or Buddhist gangs, but the government has also effectively cut off humanitarian aid to the 100,000 displaced Rohingya living in camps," the report states.

Sectarian violence broke out in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city this week. Hundreds of Buddhists - including monks - began throwing rocks at a Muslim tea shop owner accused of the rape of a Buddhist women.

Police officers were sent to quash the mob, shooting rubber bullets into the crowd to break up the violence. Two people were killed and at least five other people suffered injuries.

"While Burma has made progress in some areas, it has stagnated or even regressed in others," Hanna Hindstrom, Asia information officer at Minority Rights Group International says.

Hindstrom noted the ceasefire between the government and Karen National Union as one of the improvements seen since Myanmar began its reformation in 2011. However, violence in Kachin and Shan states shows no signs of abating.

"Burma's Muslim minority has faced a dramatic surge in violence and hostility over the past two years, in no small part due to the unfettered proliferation of hate speech," she added.

Southeast Asia last year saw a surge in "ethno-religious nationalism . leading to several attacks on minorities", the report states.

The region is in sore need of improvement. Anti-government forces in Thailand accused Cambodians of conspiring with the Thaksin Shinawatra family to destabilize the country. More recently, the military junta has cracked down on illegal Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers.

Malaysia and Indonesia have likewise seen hate campaigns leading to attacks against religious minorities and immigrants.

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