Words of Burma’s Religious Affairs Minister Too Serious to Ignore
A public official giving an interview in which he calls members of an entire religion less than citizens of his country. And a celebrated and overwhelmingly elected champion of the people remains silent as many of those people are persecuted. The circumstances sound like Nazi Germany but they describe today’s Burma.
Newly appointed Minister of Religious Affairs, a former military general, Aung Ko, told Voice of America that while Buddhists are “full citizens” of Burma, Muslims and other minorities count only as “associate citizens”. This statement implies that Muslims are foreigners who do not deserve the full rights accorded citizens of Burma, or even that they are sub-human.
The Minister of Religious Affairs then followed up with a visit to U Wirathu, the firebrand extremist leader of Ma Ba Tha, the leading extremist group that isblacklisted in a 2015 US budget bill. The minister offered the extremist monk acash donation while bowing to him. The newly elected government will be better off asking this minister of “religion” to resign.
Sadly, the new minister is following the old “solution“ as offered by the former President of Burma who officially asked the United Nations to resettle all Rohingya Muslims in a third country. Rohingya are indigenous people living in their ancestral land who have always been citizens, and have always voted and elected their representatives in Burma until the racist and Islamophobic policies of the military regime took away their citizenship.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighboring countries after their homes were burned down and thousands of them were killed. Almost 125,000 are living in what the New York Times describes as the 21st-Century Concentration Camps.