Sectarian Violence in Myanmar

Sectarian Violence in Myanmar

Intensification of sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar


Ongoing violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities continues to worsen in Myanmar's Rakhine State. Since 2012, more than one hundred thousand Muslim Rohingyas have been made homeless and hundreds have been killed, after two waves of attacks in June and October of 2012 intensified the century-old conflict in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Buddhist mobs target the Rohingya—an ethnic, Muslim group numbering around 1.3 million in Myanmar—who are not considered citizens by the Burmese government. Buddhist nationalist groups, including the 969 Movement—an anti-Muslim campaign led by Buddhist extremists—call for boycotts on Muslim shops and encourage attacks on Muslim communities, as well as the expulsion of Muslims from Myanmar.

The displacement of the Rohingya has significantly increased tension between Myanmar and its neighbors. Bangladesh sealed off its border with Myanmar to prevent an influx of refugees, contributing to the increase of refugees fleeing by boat or clustering in refugee camps, particularly on the border with Thailand.

Myanmar’s stability is increasingly important to U.S. interests, given Myanmar’s geostrategic importance in Southeast Asia and vast natural resources. Despite the United States’ attempt to reform its relationship with the pro-democratic Burmese government, the human rights issue will continue to remain a wedge between the two countries.


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