Several nations in Southeast Asia are majority-Buddhist, but only Myanmar considers Buddhism as part of their national identity to the point of being exclusive to other religions and cultures. The Rohingya are a displaced ethnic (and Muslim) subgroup with historic ties to the Rakhine State of Myanmar despite their religious and cultural ties to the Bengalis of Bangladesh. Modern political boundaries that paid no mind to demographic distributions have placed the Rohingya in a position to be considered illegal immigrants and cultural interlopers by both Bangladesh and Myanmar, with the Myanmar military periodically committing atrocities against Rohingya communities throughout Myanmar. These actions demonstrate tht Myanmar is a Buddhist country in name only because their actions directly contradict the teachings of the Buddha.
Historical Background of Myanmar
Pre-colonial period – brief religious history of Myanmar
During this period, Myanmar was also called Burma Myanmar was multi-religious country. It was one of the first countries to receive Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This shows that, there was no official state of religion. Instead, the government decided to show the prefer Theravada Buddhism as the recommended religion in the country. This religion comprised of the majority religion. The constitution provided the freedom of worship of anybody who wished to join any religion. In Bamar there were other minor religions like Christianity which was most specifically for the people like the chin, Karen and Kachin people. Apart from Christianity there was also Islam which was mainly for the Indians and the Himalayas followed by the other minority religion that is the Hindus which was attended by the Burmese. There was also a kind of worship which involved the spirits and the shrines which were found around the country. It had a relationship with the Buddhism which was recognised as pantheon. Despite the various religions that existed within the Myanmar community, it is evident that Buddhism as a religion was dominated by 88% of the religion that existed in the country Myanmar.
The rivalry began between the Myanmar and the British when the dynasty of konbaung had an intention of extending its territory into Arakan in the state of Assam. The British possession in India created closeness which resulted in the contact hence, facilitated the first Anglo- Burmese war. In the year 1824 to 1826 the British were very powerful regarding weapons, it won the battle with the aid of Siamese. Myanmar lost the war and made it cede Assam and other northern provinces. Another struggle arose in the year 1852 which led to the provision of the second Anglo- Burmese war, the British government sought to the forests in the southern part of Burma. The British again became the victim of the war which resulted in the access of the teak, rubies and the oil of the upper part of Myanmar. The third war which was known as the Third Anglo-Burmese war. It was conducted in the year 1885 when the British government tended to justify the actions that they performed. The British claimed that the independent king who became last In Myanmar by the name thibaw became the tyrant and he was free to give France the recommended influence within the country. Through the robust nature of the British government, hence it occupied the areas of Myanmar and made it their territory
Colonial period – the impact of colonial rule on Myanmar and how Buddhism initially intertwined with politics.
Myanmar intertwined in the politics when it decided to play a prominent role in many nations and national governments and destinies. It appeared in historically and regarded with the events that were taking place. At same time Myanmar acted like living organism that fed the political circumstances of the particular culture, place and eventime.it is known to be Myanmar metamorphosed with occasions which accommodated the changes of the environment. Due to the synthesis adaptations, the facilitated the divisions into Vajrayana. Theravada, Mahayana. The Buddhism relates to politics it defies the political life, ad faith that examines the separate spheres. Also, it isolates the historical developments in the religious and political influence which indicates the complimentary ad interaction forces.
The rule under Ne Win and life after the military coup
The period immediately after post-colonial the Burma gained independent which was born out of bloodshed. It is time ethic hostilities was the subject of the day since there were constant wars. The wars were based on intercultural violence among the nation of Burma. Armey against their counterpart opposition armies the Karen national liberation anthem communist of Burma tried to revolt with the early year of their freedom from the colonial government In quick recovery, the other ethnic groups like Mon, pa’s, Karenin who took the arm s I the countryside. This marked the start of the longest-running civil war in the war. Afterwards, the situation in Burma became improved. The underlying ethic groups made the country to suffer under tension remained while the environment was quickly deteriorated when leaders came to their senses on the Burmese state would ever respect the vows that they made at the time of independence.
The role of the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) in daily life
The role of the Myanmar military in daily life is just about national reconciliation. For instance, for example; the senior general by the name Min- Aug made a decision I the armed forces to his speech where he addressed the towering statue of the Myanmar o its three kings. Through his communication, he stated that the military is the sole unifying force and the protector of the constitution. Secondly, the role of the army is being evidenced where it had cooperated with the government and its citizens to hold the general election that who stand by the Aung San Suu Kyi who was known to be the pro-democracy leader. The militia seized in power in the year 1962 coup to suppress the opposition leaders. They also marched in parade signaling the time of 1945 when the nationalist’s leader fledged the army and became against the Japanese forces.
iii. History of the Rohingya
Demographic and Religious History
The Rohingyas typically stay in Arakan neighboring Bangladesh Northernmost Township having a population of around 80- to 98 percent of the total population. A classic Rohingyas family contains three or five children surviving however records shows that at times 28 children in a family can survive. Averagely, Rohingya has 46 percent more kids than the Myanmar nation. By the year 2014, over 13 million Rohingyas were living in Myanmar and over 1 million were living in overseas. In Rakhine state 40 percent of the total population are the Rohingyas and when the oversea population is included it makes a percentage of 60. This Rohingyas makes the largest world stateless community. Numerous Rohingyas have moved to southeastern Bangladesh, a town of more than 900, 000 refugees. Over 100,000 Rohingyas living in Myanmar stay in internally displaced camp sites and the state has restricted their movement.
The Rohingya people have freedom of religion. The majority of these Rohingyas are Islam, including Sufism and Sunni Islamic blend but some of the Rohingyas are Hindus. Since the government had restricted their education opportunity, the Rohingya people have Islamic classes as their only learning option. The Madarasas and mosques are available in many villages. Traditionally, women pray place is home and men participate in congregational prayers.
Where the Rohingya claim to belong vs. where Myanmar and Bangladesh claim they belong
The Rohingya people clam to belong in Myanmar. This people stay in Rakhine estate, where they are living together with Buddhists for many years. This people claim to be the offspring of the Muslims, may be the Arabs and Persians traders who had moved to Myanmar many years ago. The Rohingyas speak a language close to Bengali dialects living in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The Myanmar people claim to belong in Myanmar. This people claim to be the only ethnic groups in Myanmar. The Bangladesh people as well clime to belong in Bangladesh. This leaves the Rohingyas as stateless people.
The Rohingya conflict involves violent series in the northern part of Rakhine state in Myanmar, formerly known as Arakan Burma. This conflict is characterized by religious violence between Rohingya Muslim and Rakhine Buddhists communities, Myanmar forces attacking the Rohingya civilians, as well as the armed clashes existing between the Rathedaung township and Buthidaung Maungdaw bordering Bangladesh
The religious conflict mainly arises from the social and religious differences between the Rohingya Muslim as well as the Rakhine Buddhists. In the Second World War in Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslim fought the Rakhine Buddhists who were connected with the Japanese. After independence, 1948, the major Buddhist country refused to give the Rohingya Muslim citizenship. As a result this people were subjected to a governing authority that discriminated the Rohingya Muslim in the country. This discrimination is related to apartheid among various international political analysts.
The local people of Rohingya Mujahideen fought against the government forces in effort to secure the densely populated areas such as the Mayu Peninsula situated in northern Rahkine state. However in 1950s and 1960s the Rohingya Mujahideen lost many of their support as well as momentum resulting in their surrender to the forces of the government. By 1970s a movement of the Rohingya Islamist emerged forcing the Burmese government to launch an enormous military force called King Dragon Operation. This force worked on a command that was to fight back this movement, in 1990s. These are the main causes of the conflict as well as the aggression against the Rohingya. However the government did not manage to defeat the Solidarity Oganization of Rohingya (ROS).Later in 2016, the mount of October violence erupted at the border of Myanmar- Bangladesh between the new insurgents groups and the government forces. This resulted in 40 deaths. not evident.]
Post-Coup Myanmar – the democratization of Myanmar and the ascension of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
In the year 1988, marked a time of transition moment when a decision was made that witnessed the emergence of Dew Aung Suu Kyi who was the daughter of the national general Aung San. She addressed the people ad many mass rallies asking for the democratic state. Sometime later, she founded the national league for the democracy that arose and became the primary opposition party. She worked very hard in the campaign all over the country, seeking the significant people where ever she travelled. When it reached the year 1989, she lost her popularity and became tired. The SLORC put her under arrest hence limited her from engaging I the elections. In the late years, the government passed a martial legislature which aimed at arresting of the thousands of people which involved the students and other political figures. It was one way of weakening the opposition, but the time of voting detained majority of the overwhelmingly for the opposition party. I the election that occurred I the year 1990. This left the opposition party won the 392 out of the 485 seat that was contested. The government became dissatisfied and refused the results and later refused to hand over power. This led to the arrest of the elected Member of Parliament, and some are forced to reduce their politics; many people escaped to exile like students and those who were fighting for the democracy. The territory remained under the CPB and KNU. In the year 1990, the student’s army was joined guerrilla warfare which was against the Burmese Armey.
The role of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion (referred to by its Burmese-language acronym, MaBaTha), the most prominent nationalist organisation in Myanmar
The role of the associations was to inspire national debates where the pieces of the section of the legislatures were to be considered for instance, Myanmar’s assembly that aimed at protecting the race and religion. Secondly, the association are meant to preserve Buddhism against the perceived threat of the Islam. Thirdly, the association proposed the laws that viewed the light of violence. The association ted to present the political interest of the people. Its emphasis on the religious cleavages during the election period. It also tends to serve the importance of the undemocratic forces. The civil society groups had voiced their stand of being In opposition to the bills that are made I parliament they are meat to deny the people ‘s rights
v. The Buddha teachings
The 4th noble truth contains a guide explaining the end of suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path. This eight liberation path are sub classified into three important Buddhist practice elements including mental discipline, wisdom as well as the moral conduct. These eightfold paths are taught by Buddha are practical and can be done by all his followers. These eightfold include right mindful, right effort, right concentration, right concentration, right livelihood, right understanding, right speech as well as the right actions. This factors main objective is to perfect and promote important Buddhist trainings as well as discipline such as wisdom ( panna), mental discipline (Samadhi) as well as ethical conduct ( sila)
Ethical conduct (silla) comprises of the universal compassion and love concept for all human kind. The Buddha provided this teaching for the good of every one. In Buddhism there are quality’s that a man should develop to attain perfections. This qualities include, wisdom (pinna) and compassion (karuna). In this case compassion encompasses kindness, love, charity, tolerance as well as other emotional qualities. On the same hand, wisdom represents the intellectual qualities. For individuals to be perfect, they have develop all the two qualities, since the absence of wisdom in a compassionate person result in a fool tender hearted person. These qualities include three of the eightfold qualities: right livelihood, right speech as well as the rights action.
In right speech, right speech means abstaining from lying, slander, hatred, disunity, and enmity talks, and backbiting in the community, avoiding harsh, malicious, impolite, abusive and rude language, refraining from useless, gossip, foolish bubble and idle speech. As a result individual should speed truthful, meaningful as well as friendly words in the right time and right place. If one has nothing meaningful to speak should remain silent.
In right action, the main aim is to promote peaceful honorable as well a moral conducts. It admonishes people to avoid stealing, illegal sex intercourse, destroy life and aid other in living a honorable and peaceful life.
In right of livelihood, people are required to refrain from earning a living through use of harmful means like trading intoxicating drugs, drinks and poisons, cheating, killing animals as well as selling lethal weapons and arms. Therefore, Buddhism is against any kind of war in the country.
It contains the other three eightfold path: right mindfulness, right concentration and right effort.
In right effort, prevention of unwholesome mind state and evil, removal of unwholesome mind state in the society and evil, which are existing, production and increase of the wholesome mind and developing a whole state of mind are involved. Therefore this eightfold path ensures that the people in the society are in their right state of mind and evil is minimized in the community.
In right mindfulness, many actions that need to be minded are involved. They include attention and mindful in regard to feelings or sensation (vedana), mind activities (citta), thoughts, things, ideas and conception (dhamma) and body activities (kaya).hence this eightfold in the ,metal discipline foster good acts in the society.
In right concentration, this right of mental disciple results in recuellement or trance, which includes the Dhyana’s first stage. In this stage, unwholesome thoughts and passionate desires such as ill-will, worry, lust, skeptical doubt and languor and joy feelings as well as happiness are managed together with other mental activities. The second stage involves suppression of intellectual activities, develops the on-pointedness and tranquility and retaining of the joyful feeling. The third stage involves the disappearing of the joyful felling with retained happiness. Finally, the fourth stage includes disappearing of the both the happy and the unhappy feeling.
Right understanding and thoughts make wisdom in the eightfold path.
In right though, the selfish thoughts are excluded, the non-violent thoughts and love thoughts are involved, this acts are considered as the wise acts. The acts such as violence, ill-will and hatred are classified as unwise thoughts in all environment such as the social, political and individual.
In the right understand, understanding of substances the way they are is emphasized. In this case understanding of the noble truth is the greatest understanding in the society. However, the tatmadaw, the people and the government of Myanmar do the contrary of these teaching. For instance the Rohingya are discriminated in Myanmar and are left to suffer contrary to the Buddhism teaching that reinforce the way people should relate to each other. The peaceful and evil elimination fostered in the teaching are Conclusion:
Despite their insistence, the part of the Myanmar population that supports aggression toward the Rohingya based solely on the fact that they are not Buddhist and have different cultural norms and observances is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Buddha. Those people are using Buddhism toward a means of identification based on religious commonality in spite of the fact that their religion stands opposed to such behavior.
Harris, I. C. (2010). Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com. A history of the infusion of Buddhism with Burmese identity, from the colonial period through approximately 2009. This highlights the politicization of Buddhism throughout different eras in Myanmar history.
Ibrahim, A. (2016). The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide. C. Hurst & Co. London. This book discusses the ethnic history of Myanmar as it pertains to the Rakhine State and Rohingya claims of citizenship in both Bangladesh and Myanmar
B – Buddhism and State Power in Myanmar. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/290-buddhism-and-state-power-myanmar. An attempt to understand the nuances of social strife in modern Myanmar focusing on the MaBaTha, an organization that’s currently taking the lead in pushing a pro-Buddhist/anti-Muslim political agenda.
Wade, F. (2017). Myanmar’s Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim ‘Other’. Zed Books Ltd. London. A contemporary discussion of how Buddhism is used both as a base for a national identity and as a means to fuel the fires of xenophobia in modern Myanmar.
Walpola, R. (1974) What the Buddha Taught. Grove Press. New York. This book discusses the teachings of the Buddha through the lens of a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk. It is as close to an unbiased explanation of Buddhist ideology as one can find, with none of the Western presuppositions found in most contemporary discussions of the Buddha’s intent.
A – Pinnok, J. Burma: Buddhism and the Rise of Burmese Militant Nationalism. The Foreign Report. Retrieved from: http://www.theforeignreport.com/2013/07/01/burma-buddhism-and-the-rise-of-burmese-militant-nationalism/. A quick overview of how Buddhist nationalism took hold in Myanmar and what it means for the current political climate in Naypyidaw.
Oo, M. (2011). The Covert Objective of YMBA (1906 – 1920) and it’s Activities. retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/8462398/The_Covert_Objective_of_YMBA_1906-1920_and_Its_Activities. This article provides historical reference to the Young Men’s Buddhist Association, an organization founded at the turn of the 20th century that was instrumental in wielding Buddhism as a base for national identity.