Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Myanmar's Backslide an Un-Buddhist-Like Movement Threatens Progress

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Myanmar's Backslide an Un-Buddhist-Like Movement Threatens Progress

Article excerpt

The rebirth of respectability that Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has enjoyed as it pursues democratization now risks evaporating as the government stands by while members of the Buddhist majority persecute the Muslim minority.

As Myanmar took steps to shed its outlaw image, the United States and the European Union relaxed some economic sanctions they had imposed.

With a population of 50 million, Myanmar has an overwhelming Buddhist majority, 89 percent. Muslims represent 4 percent or more and Christians account for about 4 percent. In such a poor country, being Buddhist provides the religion's adherents with employment advantages in government and the military.

That might be normal, but there is also an extreme Buddhist and nationalist movement called "969" that has been attacking Myanmar Muslims, sometimes called Rohingya. The 969 campaign includes burning villages, driving thousands into exile in Bangladesh and Thailand and killing close to a hundred over the past year. …

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