A meeting of over 200 Myanmar Buddhist monks on how to end the violence against Muslims in the country has ended with a call for rule of law.
In a statement issued on Friday at the end of the two-day conference, held at a monastery in Hmawbi, about 32 kilometers from the former capital Yangon, the monks said that they seek peace and accused the media of maligning their peaceful religion. Conference spokesman Dhammapiya said, "We have to ascertain if the monks who took part in the violence were fake or genuine monks. It has to be investigated and there should be rule of law to stop the violence." According to media reports, some monks were armed and encouraged the violence against the Muslims. A day earlier, Dhammapiya told reporters, "We are just requesting you to write the news with the right information." "There are many media that report ethically. But there are some which get backing from some sort of organizations," he said, without elaborating. "We feel that it's not balanced." The violence that originally targeted Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar is beginning to spread to other parts of the country, where Muslims who have been granted citizenship are now being attacked, according to the website burmamuslims.org. About 800,000 Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement. The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status. Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists. The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar army forces allegedly provide the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee. Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority. Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmar military for its persecution of the Rohingyas, although she recently condemned the decision by local officials in Rakhine state to enforce a two-child policy on Rohingya Muslims. Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists.