Myanmar’s government forces walk past the homes of Rohingya Muslims set on fire by Buddhist extremists in a village in Rakhine State. (File photo)
The International Crisis Group says ‘some agents provocateurs’ including Buddhist monks are involved in the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar.
“It is clear that there are some agents provocateurs with radical anti-Muslim agendas at work in the country - including influential Buddhist monks preaching intolerance and hatred of Muslims,” said Jim Della-Giacoma, a Myanmar expert with the non-governmental organization.
“Also, the systematic and methodical way in which Muslim neighborhoods were razed to the ground is highly suggestive of some degree of advance planning by radical elements,” Della-Giacoma added.
On March 20, over 40 people were killed and a number of mosques were burned due to religious violence in several towns in central Myanmar.
Myanmar’s Islamic Religious Affairs Council and the Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Organisation later appealed to the government of President Thein Sein to take swift action to stop the ‘violent attacks.’
On March 28, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said he had received reports that soldiers and police sometimes stood by “while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes” by well-organized Buddhist mobs in the central city of Meikhtila.
The Muslim minority of Rohingyas in Myanmar accounts for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. The persecuted minority has faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country achieved independence in 1948.
Last year, scores of Rohingyas were killed when Buddhist extremists carried out atrocities against Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. Thousands of Rohingyas were also displaced.
Myanmar’s government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims.
Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called a ministerial meeting to be held in Saudi Arabia on April 14 to discuss the issue of violence against the Muslims of Myanmar.