Burma Times Special Report: February 20, 2015
The recent protests against Rohingya Muslims throughout Arakan and Burma might seem a little out of place. The protests were originally against voting rights granted to white card holders, and in less than a week the government had met their demands.
Yet thousands of protesters continued to protest, spelling out promises of doomsday for Rohingya Muslims. They called on the government to do something it has already done i.e. rescind the voting rights of white card holders.
Within days, the hate filled slogans continued to have an effect on the minority community. For Rohingyas in Arakan, words are like winds, they don’t generally hurt. But memories do. It has not been too many days since the last mass massacre of Muslims in the state. As thousands of hate spitting Buddhst nationalists fill the streets, their promise of ‘killing all Muslims’ began to sound true.
Activists say that the government decision to withdraw voting rights for white card holders have emboldened the protesters. They might want to take it to the next step which means another round of ethnic cleansing in the Arakan.
The organisers are also jubilant by the numbers of protesters that have filled the streets. They have created a momentum and they don’t want to lose this burst of energy by asking the protesters to pack up and go home.
Then there is of course the wily president of the country, Mr Thein Sein. Thein Sein has been playing a successful game involving democracy and the international community. He is the one who seemingly wanted the vote for the otherwise despised Rohingya. This might just be a rue to bolster his international standings. Rohingyas know very well that the white card vote does not bring any rights as long as the community is described as ‘alien’.
Thein Sein knew very well that there would be protests on the streets and anti Muslim groups would be strengthened if the Rohingyas were granted the vote. Yet he went forward. Considering past experiences, the blueprint for these protests might have been devised by the president himself.
For more info, please see http://burmatimes.net/thein-sein-condemns-religious-extremism/