19 October, 2021


Myanmar’s Marawi Or Kashmir? Ominous Signs

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The Rohingya Muslim issue in Myanmar has been brewing for some time, at least since the 1990s when a Buddhist monk and a functionary in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Kyaw Lwin, laid the ideological groundwork for the birth of the 969 Buddhist sectarian nationalist movement. There are ominous signs that a second Marawi may open up in Myanmar which may even turn into another Kashmir if Bangladesh gets actively involved in training Rohingya fighters.

The 969 movement with its three digits representing respectively the nine special attributes of Lord Buddha, six special attributes of his Dhamma and nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha is an aggressively chauvinistic religious cult that is determined to cleanse Myanmar of all its so called ‘aliens’. The Rohingya community of nearly one million souls whose contested ancestry in Myanmar goes back to at least the 18th century if not earlier, and are living mostly in the Arakan province, has become, after the 1982 Citizenship Law, one of those ‘aliens’ and of ‘impure bloods’ as reiterated by the country’s former head of state Senior General Than Shwe. 

It was the 969 movement in 2012 under the leadership of another monk Ashin Wirathu, who the Time magazine described as “the face of Buddhist terror”, that was responsible for instigating its followers to set upon the Rohingya Muslims and forced 140,000 of them into squalid refugee camps. There was absolutely no reaction from world leaders at that time.

Now at last, in the wake of a series of recent horrible massacres, arson attacks, rape and forced evacuation unleashed on the Rohingyas the world media is focusing its lens on this persecuted minority and the UN as usual is sitting down just to condemn the violence and calling for restraint from the regime. The UN has lately described the violence as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Yet, it is too little and may even be too late.

What is new about this issue now is the active entry of Bangladesh into the foray, not in support of the Rohingyas but to prevent the refugees crossing its narrow 64 km border with Myanmar. Once again the television is full of pictures showing the agony of hundreds of thousands of poor, thirsty and starving men, women and children sheltering under trees and begging for drinking water and food. Now they are cramping under tents. Human rights activists and NGOs can play their part in satisfying at least some of the immediate needs of the refugees, but a long term solution to the problem has to come from the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh. What are the prospects?     

Myanmar under the present military backed regime has no sympathy for the Rohingyas. The have been disenfranchised once and for all and been declared as immigrants and illegal occupants. Even Aung San Suu Kyi the so called Nobel Laureate has so continued to dodge answering directly all questions put to her by journalists and others about her sympathies or otherwise towards the Rohingya minority. By blaming the violence on terrorists, the usual answer from a politician who does not want to face facts on the ground, she has proved that she is trying to safeguard her own future from the wrath of the military. While she remains gutless the regime will stigmatise, harass, isolate, weaken and eventually annihilate this minority to complete a program of genocide in stages unless some third force like the UN intervenes quickly to stop it.

Bangladesh is already erecting military observation posts along the border to prevent refuges crossing into its territory. According to Bangladesh government sources there are already 400,000 Myanmar nationals causing “massive social, economic and environmental problems”. At the same time the Myanmar regime is also land mining the border ostensibly to prevent the refugees from entering Bangladesh. There may be another more genuine reason for this as I show below.

The danger is that Bangladesh is also the home for hundreds of thousands jihadists and radical Islamists who will consider it their religious duty to defend the interests of fellow Muslims in Myanmar. Since some sections of the Rohingya community are already arming themselves to defend against Buddhist violence the jihadists would be willing to join them in a holy war. Lately al-Qaida also has declared its intentions to enter the arena. Also, with the collapse of ISIS in Syria those fighters will look for other battle grounds to carry on with their jiihad. Myanmar in mining the border areas is taking precaution to stop the flow of jihadists. 

It is also possible that the opposition parties in Bangladesh would pressure the government to lend support to the Rohingya fighters at least by training them militarily and equipping them with up-to-date weapons. This will be a replica of Marawi, the current zone of jihad in the Philippines. The worst scenario is for Bangladesh to annex the province of Arakan, which tantamount to an open declaration of war with Myanmar and a recreation of another Kahmir. Only timely action by world leaders can stop these outcomes becoming reality even by default.

Lending humanitarian assistance to victims, though necessary, is not enough to solve the problem. It requires decisive action in tackling the root of the problem. However, the tragedy that the world faces at the moment is this: whenever minorities suffer persecution at the hands of the majority with government support the former’s interests do not receive serious attention at world fora because of the clash of national interests. Countries that hold the trump cards in these fora have economic and strategic ties with the Myanmar regime. It is the negative consequences of jeopardising those ties that dilute and weaken their resolve to tackle the root causes. This is how preventable and controllable disturbances in their initial stages escalate into open wars when decisive actions are delayed. The Sri Lankan civil war is a classic illustration of this tragedy. The Rohingya issue which affects the national interest of Bangladesh bears all the signs of escalating into an undeclared and covert war.      

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Amir Ali, who gives S..t about what is happening in Mynmar. We need to protect ourselves ; the Sinhala Buddhist and our country from Muslim extremists like you. Why don’t you plead your c ase with Filthy rich Muslim countries such as Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, UAE, Brunei and Oman or other Muslim countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, or Pakistan to accept the landless gypsies, Rohingyas originated from Bangladesh. Why the hell are you in comfortable living environment in Australia poking your finger always in the affairs of Buddhist countries.

    • 5


      Get a grip mister. Amir Ali is one of the sane intellectuals around who always presents his information logically and coherently. Do not brush all Muslims with your bigoted and filthy tar!

      The reality in Sri Lanka is that, all minorities need protection from the chronically insecure Sinhala Buddhists! What in the hell is wrong with the Theravada Buddhism! You tell me…..

      • 4

        Dear Dr. Ali, Your comparison that if Bangladesh army invades Myanmar, it will be like Marawi or Kashmir is not quite correct. The analogy should be with northern Cyprus, where Turkish troops invaded into a sovereign state to protect Turks living there. Turkish army was powerful than Cyprus army to drive Cyprus army away and since Turkey was a NATO ally, US and west turned a blind eye. After invading, Turkish army has committed murder and ethnic cleansing, so that there is not a single Greek in northern Cyprus, though they were the original owners of the land and Turks were immigrants. In the case of Myanmar, it is different. Bangladesh army is not powerful than Myanmar army to invade and hold the land. China is fully behind Myanmar as they trust Buddhist Myanmar over Islamic Bangladesh. Moreover Israel has refused to stop selling arms to Myanmar and India has given its backing to Myanmar. Even with all odds, if Bangladesh army succeeds in defeating Myanmar army, it is definitely going to commit murder and ethnic cleansing of Buddhists from the region in order to establish Muslim rule there. So do you think China, Israel and India will turn a blind eye to this. On the other hand if Bangladesh arms and trains Islamic terrorists, then Myanmar army will have legitimacy in eradicating them, even pursuing terrorists into Bangladesh, and in the process commit atrocities on Rohingyas as what happened in Srilanka.

      • 3

        Burning issue; A radical Brown Nose of Muslim Extrimists; For you and all Anti Sinhala Buddhist elements, Amir Ali may present a character of a “Sane Intellectual” . For us; the Sinhala Buddhists, He is a sworn enemy who obtained his half baked knowledge due to Badhudin Mohamed’s warped education policy that favored Muslims like Amir Ali. I wonder where he will be today if it was not for Destructive Education Plan introduced by Badhudin Naana, that was partially responsible for the ethic war driven by LTTE terrorists.
        “Leopard cannot change its spots” Amir Ali one of them. He is a Muslim Extremist with paper credentials.

        For your information Nothing wrong with “Theravada Buddhism” . It will protect us and our nation founded by Sinhala people. I wonder why all condescending Machiavellian politicians of all religions (Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhist) pay homage to Buddhist temples in Kandy , when the B…….s are in political dire straights.

      • 2

        I ain’t no Buddhist but I am a Sinhalese Lion to the truest sense of the word. And if you need protection from anyone or anything it’s me and my johnny you need protection from. You know what we do to fellas like you back in the service?

        We’d brush your Muslim tarmac with vaseline and go to work on it. One after another.

    • 0

      SBC ..
      check your head with psychiatric Dr ? Mr psychopathic Mr SBC. you do not know how to counter ideas with ideas ..TC should become a cheap news now ..? look the quality of SL guardians or some other on line news .CT is cheap news like that Sun in UK.
      people like you to read .

    • 3

      Well said SBC. Thanks. “Spade is a spade”. It is high time that we face the challenges undermining the existence of Sinhala Buddhists.

  • 3

    Devotees of a extremist and violent religeous cult killing their own as well as people of other religions, busy with global expansion are accusing buddhists as chauvanists. Find some more words like being asservative, as we all have to follow the western thinking and the not the buddhist way “live and Let live”. ———– On the other hand, this is typical muslims lieing. In order to save their as22es and spread their violnet cult and the proliferating rats, they do say anything.

  • 0

    Difficult to fathom what Dr Ameer Ali is trying to say. one may be tempted to feel that someone told him “Write something about Rohingyas, but avoid mentioning the parallels between Lanka and Burma, avoid suggesting what Lankans should do regarding this tragic massacre of humans by humans”. Dr Ameer is struggling to do that.
    Ameer has not given sufficient historical background. Rohingyas have been in Burma for at least eight hundred years. At some stage Ameer concludes “………..a long term solution to the problem has to come from the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh”. No Sir. It is ” Myanmar and the rest of the world.
    The Rohingya issue was created by the Burmese Junta to divert peoples attention while they plundered and plundered. They let lose Wirathu. They control the mono-ethnic army. Aung San Suu Kyi is not able to break through this wall.
    No one has considered Bangladesh annexing Arakan province as a possibility. Ameer thinks this possible.
    Ameer mentions “…….a recreation of another Kahmir………..” If he meant Kashmir, then it is simply fantasy.

    • 2

      Bringing Kashmir or even Marawi into this is mischief on the part of Dr. Ali, who is regarded as a fair commentator. Kashmir was ruled by British as a protectorate with a Hindu King as the head, similar to other protectorates like Hyderabad with a Muslim King as head. At the time of partition, both Kashmir and Hyderabad Kings opted to be independent of both Pakistan and India. But soon after Independence, Pakistan invaded Kashmir in order to annex it. Therefore Pakistan’s invasion is illegal. When this occurred King of Kashmir, signed the accession to India, and invited Indian troops to protect his country. Therefore Indian invasion is legal. At present 50% of Kashmir is occupied by India, 35% occupied by Pakistan and 15% occupied by China. It is strange that when Pakistan has no problem with Chinese occupation, it is crying foul of Indian occupation. As for Marawi, Mindanao island belongs to Phillipines and Muslims who are immigrants are being supported by both Indonesia and Malaysia to carry out terrorism. Phillipines president is tough and has told the Islamic terrorists to surrender or get killed. He had even said that if they surrender they will be treated in a human manner, unlike how LTTE members who surrendered were summarily executed by Srilanka army. I am sure if Phillipine army do the same thing as Srilanka army when fighting these terrorists by committing mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Muslims, all these Muslim countries which turned a blind eye to the plight of Tamils in Srilanka will shout from roof tops.

  • 2

    Some Burmese who call themselves Buddhists are truly communalist intolerant to other races,even the Karans and the Christians have suffered under them.
    Sinhalese Buddhists might be with the Burmese just because they are Buddhists and they hardly know these people.
    I had a Sinhalese Buddhist who kept in touch with a Burmese lady who visited their temple in Kandy in DS Senanayake Veedya,some where in 1956.He was invited to Burma where he was given only a few days visa and the girl’s relatives were very hostile to him for getting involved with a Sinhalese whom they consider same as a Roningaya.He left the country in disgust and sad but the girl followed him to Malaysia and then to Sri Lanka and after a few months he joined his family in Australia.He told me during that time the juntha imprisoned even the Buddhist monks who protested the neglect in the country where only a puppet a PM was running(Ithink it was U no,sound like) the country but the military had the power.
    Juntha made their own city for them selves and encouraged the so called Buddhists to harass the Muslim traders who worked hard like in our country where they occupied some of the prime commercial properties in the capital.Militant Buddhist priests were used by the junta to harass these traders and one of them is Srilankan Muslim man whom I knew who had a shop with his Burmese Buddhist wife in their capital where he worked as an Engineer for a foreign firm that had contracts in nearby countries,like Malaysia,Thiland etc.He was never allowed an visa on the long term to be with his wife,eventually settled in Colombo with his beautiful wife and two children and one of them is happily married to a Sinhalese relative of mine living at Nuggegoda. After a decade of trauma of communalisem he decided to relax his own feelings of being a Muslim and allowed his daughter to marry a Sinhales.He had to go abroad to suffer the pain of religious and racial bigotry.
    As far as Burma is concerned they are violating human rights of it’s minorities and outside powers must intervene.
    I too is the same situation where my wife’s people of far east origin is lukewarm towards me and I am too thick and arrogant to tackle them.

  • 4

    Muslim extremist tried there aggressive activities in Thailand and learnt good lesson. I believe they are experiencing the same in Myanmar. Amir Ali better to make your case in front of your Muslim Countries. I hope, Sri Lanka has shown leniency in dealing with these Muslim extremists and Muslim agents such as Amir Ali.

  • 1

    It is absurd Jim Softy et al speaking on behalf of Burmese Junta. I bet Jim Softy et al would definitely match with Rohingya if they do a DNA test. After all Vijaya came from Orissa/Bengal region.

  • 2

    Why are you interested in Myanmar’s affairs? Is it because Myanmar is a Buddhist country like Sri Lanka? When Sri Lankan Muslim girl Rizana who was falsely accused and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, Muslims in Sri Lanka did not say a word against it in fear of their Saudi money being stopped. Sinhalese tried every thing to save Rizana but barbaric Saudi laws managed to victimized her. The Muslims who gave Rizana a fraudulent birth certificate are still at large.

    Myanmar government is only taking precautionary measures. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Afghanistan, and Maldives were once proud Buddhist country. Right now in Sri Lanka, Muslimization is taking place aggressively. Kuragala, Devanagala, Degawapiya, Wilpattuwa, Muhudu maha viharaya, Anuradhapura holi city, Dabulla Holi city, Somawathiya, etc are under Muslim invasion. 1000s of Sri Lankan Muslims have joined various Jihadi terrorist groups. Terrorist breeding madrasas are mushrooming all over Sri Lanka. Muslims run the drug empire.

    Sri Lankan politician can learn a lot from the great lady Aun Saan Suu kyi.
    What will happen if Sinhalese take a leaf out of Myanmar’s book?

    Bangladesh can’t annex the province of Arakan, instead, one day, India will re-annex Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    Considering the great damage that Muslims have done since 7 th century to the world (e.g: Before Muslims’ arrival in Indian sub-continent, it was the most prosperous in world) , they are not in a position to trow punches, but, soon the non-Muslims in the world will gang up on Muslims.

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