In Burma, Satellite Images Show Extent of Religious Violence

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An estimated 442 buildings were destroyed or severely damaged in one neighborhood of Meiktila, Burma

The scale of devastation wreaked by last month’s communal riots in central Burma has been revealed by new satellite images. The remains of hundreds of smoldering homes scar three once thriving Muslim neighborhoods of Meiktila, a town of 100,000 people around 500 km north of Rangoon. Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims 828 buildings were obliterated across some 24 hectares. Most shocking has been the leading role the Buddhist clergy played in the bloodshed, creating a tinderbox atmosphere across the country that shows little sign of dissipating.

The sectarian violence was sparked by a seemingly innocuous dispute at a Muslim-owned gold shop in Meiktila on March 20, yet soon spread across the region with frightening intensity. Before long 43 people had been killed, at least five mosques torched and around 12,000 people had fled to ramshackle displacement camps outside the town. The government imposed a state of emergency and curfews in certain hard-hit areas, but the violence nevertheless swelled to 11 nearby townships where Muslim districts were plundered. Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, has since lamented “the failure of the police to stop wanton killings and the burning of entire neighborhoods.”

(MOREState of Emergency Declared in Central Burma After Religious Riot)

Similar Buddhist-Muslim violence devastated western Burma’s Arakan state last year in clashes that saw some people 120,000 forced from their homes and more than 120 lives lost. The fighting was mainly targeted at the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim group not included in Burma’s official 135 ethnic groups and thus, branded illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The government was therefore quick to brand the Arakan crisis an “immigration issue,” although the clearly anti-Muslim character of the latest violence, which did not involve the Rohingya, has since heralded a re-evaluation of earlier incidents. Sources in Meiktila told TIME on Tuesday that the situation there remains tense; Muslims are terrified to go out after dark and are not able to visit the town’s market to trade or collect supplies.

The clashes have been most notable for the brand of militant Buddhism that appears to be gaining ground in Burma since the end of junta rule in March 2011. Monks have unparalleled moral authority in traditional Burmese society. Wirathu, an outspoken monk who was jailed in 2003 for stirring religious clashes in the northern city of Mandalay, has dubbed himself “the Burmese bin Laden” in reference to the jihadi leader Osama bin Laden’s religious fervor, despite his hatred of all things Islamic. The 45-year-old posted an inflammatory speech online last week that warned “once these evil Muslims have control and authority over us, they will not let us practice our religion” and accused Muslims of accumulating “money to get our young Buddhist women.”

Wirathu is a leading figure of an extremist Buddhist movement identified by the numerals 969 — representing the nine attributes of the Lord Buddha, six attributes of Buddhist teachings and nine attributes of monks. Abu Tahay, president of the Union National for Development Party, a Rohingya Muslim political group, told TIME that 969 stickers are common on the front of houses and taxis around Rangoon. “This sticker is now the symbol of the racists,” he says. “Not only the President but [democracy icon] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should come out and give a concrete statement about the multicultural nature of our country.”

(PHOTOS: Sectarian Unrest in Burma Sees Dozens Dead, Thousands Fleeing)

Tensions in the former capital have been further heightened by a fire at an Islamic school that claimed the lives of 13 children in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Around 70 youngsters were sleeping in the two-story building near the city center when a blaze broke out at around 2:40 a.m. local time. While the official explanation is that the fire was caused by faulty wiring in a transformer on the second floor, witnesses told reporters at the scene that 10 men turned up in car, dosed the building with petrol and threw in a burning torch. TIME could not independently verify either report.

Official figures indicate that Burma’s population is only 4% Muslim, although many argue this is implausibly low considering the bevy of mosques that characterize almost every urban area. Religious intolerance is certainly not unknown in the country, with a raft of discriminatory legislation and pogroms against Muslims and South Asian immigrants after xenophobic dictator Ne Win seized power though a coup in 1962. The current situation is clearly troubling for reformist President Thein Sein as he marks the second anniversary of taking office. The former general has warned that he will not hesitate to use tough measures to maintain calm, but this is clearly an unsettling prospect considering the half-century of brutal military rule that his administration is attempting to banish from memory.

(PHOTOS: On the Front Lines With the Kachin Independence Army)


Wow, where's the articles of all the buddhists killed by muslims both throughout the world and over the years, but particularly in Bangladesh in the last few years and well before this rohingya business.  Buddhist Temples, neighborhoods & villages destroyed, ancient holy texts, monks & buddhist civilians beaten and/or killed.    Not to mention hindus in Bangladesh who are under threat.

I can't believe TIME magazine, the same used to be neutral outstanding journalistic news source would spend so much time and energy defending a group of people who have no business being in Burma in the first place.  They are Bangladeshi then why won't Bangladesh take them back?  Bangladesh repatriates them right back to Burma, Thailand doesn't want them, Malaysia doesn't want them.   WHY?

You have the gall to speak of 'pogroms' against muslims in a single country  while pogroms against Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jainians, Ahmadiyah, Druze, Egyptian Copts, the indigenous Assyrians in what is now Turkey, Greek Cypriots, Thai Buddhists????    Absolutely the lowest form of pandering to the lowest common denominator on earth.

Did anyone ever ask what in the world would drive even pacifist buddhist monks to incite or commit violence?  Maybe a REAL journalist would write an article, which I doubt you would ever report, on the heinous levels of violence and aggression perpetrated against Burmese buddhists at the hands of the rohingya muslims that drove monks who normally accept death rather than raise a finger in violence to become violent.   

Buddhist monks have self immolated, burmese monks have allowed themselves to be shot by the military during nonviolent protests RATHER than commit an act of violence themselves !!  This isn't over NOTHING, this is what happens when people have been pushed to their breaking point.  Tell the truth for a change, I don't know how you sleep at night.  There is propaganda all over the internet filled with lies about 50K rohingyas murdered and using photos of chinese buddhist monks in china helping collect the dead after the 2010 earthquake with captions reporting that they are burmese monks killing rohingyas.  They use photos from afghanistan, the congo, and china and claim they're rohingyas.  


Racist religious violence is rampant among Buddhists. It's happening in Sri Lanka as well.

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@AinulFarkhanAl-Biruni   You're one to talk!   Hypocrisy, self declared innocence & martyrdom and the self pity from the most religiously violent group on the planet. YOU are Indonesian, and Indonesians have been persecuting and murdering christians for years, burning their churches, their homes and their businesses and beheading their children. Ahmadiyya islam has been outlawed.  Explain yourself and your complaining about other people when your own country is responsible for so much persecution and violence.  Also, why don't you use a dictionary and look up the definition of RACISM which has to do with RACE and islam is not a race.

I guess you forgot about the 25,000 Bangladeshi muslims rioters torching all those buddhist temples and neighborhoods a FULL six months before ANYTHING happened in Burma.  Rohingya muslims are BANGLI so I have no doubt they are just as violent as the muslims back home.

I am also very curious to know why Bangladesh won't accept the rohingyas back, they are bangladeshi but bangladesh won't take them!  Why should Burma be stuck with them?

Or how about the destruction of buddhism and Hinduism in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the past 60 years?

The destruction of Buddhism in Afghanistan occurred centuries ago.  Muslims have been persecuting and destroying those of other faiths since the inception of the cult.

In the past decade alone muslims have killed THOUSANDS of buddhists in thailand, burma, malaysia, and Bangladesh.  As I said above in Bangladesh the violence has been particularly brutal and involving mobs and no intervention provided by the government as the mobs murdered buddhists.

Christians murdered daily across the globe by muslims, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Gaza, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Chechnya, Indonesia, the Philippines, -and more-  and let's please not forget the jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, Ahmadiyah and every other non-muslim religion that muslims are perpetuating a long slow genocide upon.

By the way, it's not just the buddhists in Sri Lanka who are sick of muslims, every other single non muslim is sick of them too, hindus, taoists, christians and everybody else.


Wirathu, an outspoken monk in an inflammatory speech online last week that warned “once these evil Muslims have control and authority over us, they will not let us practice our religion” and accused Muslims of accumulating “money to get our young Buddhist women.

The question is from where did the monk get this idea, forget him how is he able to sway the mob by this thoughts. Is this thought derived from the way Muslims are carrying out things across the globe, particularly in areas dominated by them?

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@sanmaha   Gee, I don't know, maybe the complete annihilation of buddhism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the deaths of thousands of buddhists in Thailand occurring still at this moment, and the ongoing slow persecution/genocide of buddhists in Bangladesh that has been in effect since partition.  

Rohingya muslims ARE Bengali.

Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia - These neighboring/nearby countries all express high levels of religious persecution & death against non muslims/buddhists - Thailand is the only country that is Buddhist majority and yet muslims have managed to kill well over 4,000 people in the last 5 years.
The can see what's happening right next door, and the evidence is empirical - majority muslim countries perpetrate genocide upon all non muslims - Bangladesh is the worst offender towards buddhists.

What is happening in Burma is NOTHING, I mean zero, compared to what is happening to Buddhists in Bangladesh.  

The Bengalis have been massacring buddhist peoples in the THOUSANDS - WHERE'S THE OUTCRY? INDIGENOUS Jumma and Asian buddhists living in Bangladesh have been all but completely wiped out and driven out - SO - Why am I reading an international outcry over the Burmese people wanting to get rid of their illegal Bengalis, the SAME kind of people wiping out buddhists in their own homeland right next door???  Does any sane person believe they want to end up like the shreds of buddhists left in Bangladesh?  Complete genocide?

There have been so many massacres of buddhists in Bangladesh JUST since 1980, Chittagong Tracts Massacre in 2010 - in September 2012 mobs of 25,000 muslims rioted and destroyed innumerable buddhist homes, neighborhoods, temples, holy sites & killing monks, attacking buddhists.  

And I gotta read a Time headline that says 'the face of buddhist terror" are they kidding me?  They're not terrorists, they're fed up with being raped, robbed and butchered by islamic occupiers from a foreign land!

Here is a list of 5 massacres that occurred over a four year period, and THOUSANDS of indigenous buddhist people were murdered, tortured, raped, burned alive, hanged, shot, homes destroyed, villages completely destroyed.  More thousands fled to India.  Just a few years ago 800 buddhists were ordered to leave their land so Bengali and 'illegal plains settlers' could move onto the land.   WHERE'S THE INTERNATIONAL OUTCRY?

Kaukhali Massacre, 25/03/1980,  
Banraibari-Beltali-Belchari Massacre 26/06/1981, 
Telafang-Ashalong-Tabalchari-Barnala Massacre 19/09/1981, 
Golakpati-Machya-Tarabanchari Massacre June-August 1983, 
Bhusanchara Massacre 31/05/1984   

There are so many more massacres of buddhists of Bangladesh, perpetrated both by muslim civilians, settlers and/or the Bengali army - and believe me when I say that the levels of violence were stomach churning in their viciousness and lack of humanity.

Just last month & this month in Malaysia, several Burmese buddhist immigrants have been throat sliced, haven't read anything about that !  Guess their lives just don't matter to 'western interests'.

I applaud the Burmese people, the buddhist monks and anyone on this PLANET with the strength, the perseverance, and the intelligence required to protect themselves, their families, and their people by standing against world community enforced mass islamic immigration.  The only people who allow such a thing are complicit to the excruciatingly slow genocide of their own countrymen.

 INDIGENOUS JUMMA and Asian Buddhists living in what is now Bangladesh have almost completely destroyed, ethnically cleansed, murdered, driven out, homes destroyed THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS - and people are sniveling about how mean Burma is for not wanting BENGALIS living in their country?  Did anybody ever ask why?  Anybody take the time to examine what atrocities the rohingyas have been perpetrating against Burmans?   I HAVE !!   WHY would ANY sane person want Bengali muslims living in their country, much less Burmese Buddhists who have been watching the Bengalis murder their kin for decades and centuries.


This is the same Buddhist group, led by Wirathu, that has been so enthusiastically backed by the U.S. government in recent years.


It's coming. Once the governments of the earth have had enough of Religion's nonsense, the axe will fall.


The extremist Buddhists are no different than extremist Muslims. The problem is that nowadays, leftists treat all moderate religious people like villains (Christianity, Catholicism, and Buddhism included) and the only religion they sympathize with is Islam.

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These religiously extremist Buddhists are no different from the other nut jobs found around the globe practicing every brand of religion out there. They should be denounced and their genocidal activities should be condemned with the same zeal and fervor with which the Al Qaeda et al are.