Buddhists in Rakhine stoking hatred of Rohingya, Myanmar's leader says

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 2:36am


Buddhist monks, politicians and other ethnic Rakhine figures are stoking hatred towards Muslim Rohingya in the country's west, plagued by sectarian violence, Myanmar's president warns in a report leaked yesterday.

In an unvarnished assessment of the role of Buddhists in unrest in Rakhine state, which has left scores dead on both sides and displaced tens of thousands of people, President Thein Sein also said ethnic Rakhine could not accept the Rohingya as fellow citizens.

Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless and Myanmar's government considers their 800,000-strong population foreigners. Many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.

"Political parties, some monks and some individuals are increasing the ethnic hatred. They even approach and lobby both the domestic and overseas Rakhine community," Thein Sein said in a report sent to parliament last week.

"Rakhine people are continuously thinking to terrorise the Bengali Muslims living across the country," he said, using a term frequently used in Myanmar for Rohingya.

Thein Sein also said ethnic Rakhine could not envisage sharing their land with people they consider foreigners, echoing comments he made in July calling for camps or deportation of Rohingya.

A leading Rakhine political party rejected the findings. "Such a review should not be released in this current time … it can worsen the clashes," said Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

The president's review also found that the economy of Rakhine state had been decimated by the unrest.