Friday, May 19, 2017
Myanmar failing to stop spread of religious violence, UN envoy says // Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar's great hope fails to live up to expectations
Poppy McPherson in Yangon
Myanmar must do more to prevent the drastic escalation of religious intolerance and violence following clashes between ultranationalist Buddhists and minority Muslims in Yangon, a senior UN envoy has said. Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, called on the year-old National League for Democracy government led by Aung San Suu Kyi to strengthen its efforts to curb hate speech and violence drummed up by nationalist groups. “I have, in the past, raised concerns regarding incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance, and these appear to be drastically escalating,” she said.
“I believe that the spread of anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric is not receiving the serious attention that it requires, and is too often left unchecked by the authorities. This cannot be tolerated any longer. The government must step up to take more concerted efforts to tackle and address such incidents.”
Last week, a fight broke out in a Muslim neighbourhood of Yangon after dozens of nationalists raided the home of a family they believed was hiding Rohingya Muslims, members of a persecuted minority deemed by many to be illegal immigrants. The violence, which left several injured, came two weeks after another radical group, involving some of the same people, forced the closure of two Islamic schools. While the Myanmar authorities have arrested several Buddhists in connection with the recent violence, they bowed to nationalist pressure to shutter the Islamic schools. Zaw Htay, a spokesperson for Aung San Suu Kyi, declined to take questions… read more:
It was never meant to be this way. The script called for the lead actor, a Nobel prize winner, to seize control of a country, bring peace where there was conflict and prosperity where there was poverty. A nation emerging from years of military dictatorship was to become a beacon of hope not only for its cowed population but also for much of a fractured and turbulent south-east Asia.
But like many political dramas – especially over the past 12 months – the script has not been followed by Myanmar and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Now, a year since one of the world’s most famous prisoners of conscience came to power in the specially created position of state counsellor, the talk is not of progress. Instead, it is of drastically escalating ethnic conflicts that have simmered and sporadically exploded for decades; a new Rohingya Muslim insurgency that has prompted an army crackdown some say may amount to crimes against humanity; a rash of online defamation cases that have fostered a panic over freedom of speech; and a repressive legal framework that allowed the generals to jail so many still being in place. And all the while, Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of remaining mostly silent, doggedly avoiding the media... read more