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Ethnic Conflict in Burma by Sonam Dolma Lama & Adboulie S.Tamba




Albukhary international university is a growing university whose aim is to become a model university. Not only being characterized by high quality education but also humanitarian values aimed at empowering underprivileged and disadvantaged students. The university holds more than fifty divisions of the world scholars who represent their countries.

The two great religions, Buddhist and Islam are having serious conflict in Burma, whose effect of misunderstanding was seen in the AIU once. The unreliable information was being spread by Muslim students on Burma conflict through unreliable post in social network of AIU post. The effect was seen in groups of two religions in AIU, which seems to be unclear due to sourcing and relying on unreliable information.


It is to clear the misunderstanding of the students on Burma case. This report will be a clear support and main source of information which will bring better understanding of W/H questions to all the students and especially to Muslim and Buddhist students. We believe after understanding the different context of conflict and realizing it, the relationship of students will be much stronger. Hope, everyone will live and believe to advance themselves beyond religion and more on making life easier on earth.


Living in different cultures, tradition, sharing and respecting different religions and its beliefs are some of the common care we have learnt to adapt in the Albukhary International University. Living in a different world and accepting new environment are also some of the challenges faced by academic students and staff. Accepting the differences in diverse cultural environment is equally important to survive and exposure to rich cultures helps to understand the world better.

The report on Ethnic Conflict in Burma is to bring better understanding between Muslim and Buddhist students today living in AIU. It unfolds the truth of the incident that took place in Burma clash between Buddhist (Rakhine) groups and Muslim (Rohingya) groups to clear the misunderstanding between two different groups.

After going through various reliable and trusted sites of BBC, CNN, Guardian  and other sites, it is found that  Rakhine groups are Burmese citizen who covers the majority Buddhist in Burma and Rohingya a muslim community as immigrants from India sub continents and non- citizen of Burma.

The deadly clash between Rakhine Burmese and Rohingya took place when young Buddhist women in May was raped and murdered by three Muslims in west Burma. This bought up a set off chain of religious conflict.

Secondly, after this thrilling incident, ten Muslims we killed which is said to be unconnected with previous incident. But the fire between two different religions went further with long standing of burning villages. Residents of both communities were left with nothing other than dead bodies and ashes flying on air after attack. The victims flee back to their homes.

Sayeda begum one of the victims during attack lost her husband. Miserably with no choice other than running away from her life. Deprived of food and shelter travelling six days on their way to Bangladesh refugee camp with her children. Unfortunately she was not allowed by the officer of Bangladesh to enter but somehow she found way. The Burmese military were observing the violence and did not intervene the bullet triggered only to Muslim Rohingya minorities.

Burma government considers Rohingyas as immigrants from India sub-continent and denies these persecuted minorities of citizens. Rohingyas has been living in an extreme poverty approximately 28,000 are mixed with local at the country size. Rohingyas has been also taking shelter to neighboring countries of Thailand around 140,000. After observation of hard life of Rohingyas, Ahmed Hassin, Rohingyas community leader in Kutapalong camp, Bangladesh stated “life is hard & difficult in refugee’s camps”. They are willing to come back their homeland only if the state government of Burma assures safety and security of full right ship on land.

Burma presently is heading to democratic transformation. The government of military regime since (1967) strictly controls media channels, news and any activity inside country. The government banned international channels to pass any criticism to outside world.

In June 2010, according to survey on internet users in Burma were only 110,000. While only activists inside the county secretly use Facebook to flow information in and out. Beside military dominance over Burma, Rakhine monks have a long standing tension on the violence created by Rohingyas over Rakhine villages. Ottaamathara, a monk representing Mandalay protest disagreed and voiced upon the opening of Muslim office for Islamic body (OIC) to protect and help Rohingyas after settling OIC in Burma by AFP news agency.

The conflict is growing day by day even after the intervention of UN who states “Rohingyas living in west Burma are religious and linguistic minority”. Also, appealed Bangladesh to temporarily provide protection. Some developed countries urged UN to take human right abuse action on Burma but none of the country stepped forward to work closely to bring justice.

Few dedicated foreign media like BBC, voice of America, US- backed radio free Asia and Norway based opposition station democratic voice of Burma are key source to the is still mysterious & unclear about Burma conflict between Rohingyas minority Muslims and Burmese Rakhine  Buddhists.

In last fifty years for the first time the senior US official Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state decided to visit Burma in December and forward the positive proposal to settle down Burma ethnic conflict after President Barack Obama announced in November to media. The association of southern Asian nations (ASEAN) in November, as per delegates vote finalized Burma to host ASEAN’s entire meeting in 2014.

3.0 Article Review

3.1 Article 1

Burmese Muslims targeted in communal violence, says Amnesty

According to Guardian newspaper, 2012 the article seems to have all its information from Amnesty International, reliable as it might be, but the manner in which news outlets convey stories is really important and as such one needs to take a closer look at the whole picture to validate the authenticity of the story in the paragraphs that follow, we will be doing that.

A lot of the information on this article is on the numbers of people killed like this paragraph

…The government declared a state of emergency on 10 June, deploying troops to quell the unrest and protect both mosques and monasteries. Authorities said at least 78 people had been killed and thousands of homes of both Buddhists and Muslims either burned down or destroyed…”

…Violence in the past six weeks has been “primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingyas specifically the targets and victims”, Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty, told the Associated Press. “Some of this is by the security forces’ own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists, with the security forces turning a blind eye in some cases…”

For the most part this seems to concur with what major news outlets are saying but what the article failed to do in this regard is to mention in detail  the other side of the coin: the toll of the conflict on the Rakine Buddhist community. The article has painted a picture of a one sided conflict which seems unnatural as it’s a golden rule for nature that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case that reaction has been either deliberately or ignorantly left out of the picture and the real motives of the author remain unclear to us, the best we can get is a guess.

Another major point that the article mentioned about those behind the violence, in the paragraph below the author paints the Government of Myanmar as the wolf wanting to get rid of the a helpless and marginalized people from their country

…The Burmese president, Thein Sein, said earlier this month the solution to ethnic enmity in Rakhine state was to either send the Rohingyas to a third country or have the United Nations refugee agency look after them. The UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, said, however, it was not his agency’s job to resettle the Rohingyas.

“Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless,” Zawacki said. “For too long Myanmar’s [Burma’s] human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them.” And in another paragraph the author adds the Burmese people to the list of people to blame for the plight of the Rohingyas

..Many people in Burma do not recognise Rohingyas as legitimate settlers – even those of Bengali heritage who came in the 19th century when the country was under British rule. The exodus of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in the 1980s and 1990s because of persecution, and their subsequent return, has added to the confusion over who among them are illegal immigrants.

The author goes on to accuse the Bangladeshi government for their role in the marginalization of the Rohingya people. “Bangladesh also denies the Rohingyas citizenship, arguing that they have been living in Burma for centuries and should be recognised as citizens there instead.”

In summary the author blamed the Government of Myanmar, its people and the Government of Bangladesh for the conflict. Interestingly the article made no mention of the role of the U.S or China since both countries have a strong influence in what goes on in Burma with the former being her newest ally and the latter her newest ally.

3.2 Article 2

Burma: Escalating Violence signals religious war

This article starts by recounting experiences from both sides of the conflict first from the Rohingya side as in the first three paragraphs:

Khamal Alam is the only member of his family to survive the recent violence in western Burma. The 25-year-old from the Rohingya minority says all his relatives were shot by government troops who opened fire on the Muslims during running battles with the Buddhist Arakanese.

Alam arrived at the Thae Chaung refugee camp after fleeing his home town of Kyaukphyu when several hundred houses were burned by local Buddhists. “Nobody died from the sword, only gunshots,” said another Kyaukphyu resident now in the camp.

Hundreds of Muslim Rohingya people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in recent weeks in renewed clashes with the Arakan Buddhists

Then it touches the other side of the story:

Ko Aye, 14, a Buddhist from Yaithein village, last saw his 15-year-old friend lying on the ground, bleeding from a sword wound just below his neck. A mob had descended on his village, razing the homes of the largely Buddhist community. “Hundreds of Muslims arrived carrying bows, swords and fire torches,” he recalled of that morning, before he and his family fled. “I was on the street, and everyone ran as they began burning houses.”

The article goes on to talk about the genesis of the conflict, tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have festered for decades here: both have suffered abuse from the government, but have directed their response largely at one another. Arakanese blame aggressive attempts to stamp a Burmese identity on the state as reason for a fierce nationalism. The target of this has often been the Rohingya, whom both Arakanese and the government claim are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. U Nya Nya, chairman of a monks’ association in Sittwe, says the Rohingya identity was only adopted in the 1950s as “an attempt by illegal Bengalis” to get recognition as a distinct ethnic group in Burma. Historical references, such as a 1799 study of dialects by ethnographer Francis Buchanan which refers to the “Rooinga”, are dismissed by Arakanese”.

It then goes on to talk about the effect of the conflict , in which he paints a realistic but gloomy picture of  the relationship of  both sides of the conflict on how hatred now reigns over Rakhine state. This is summarized in words of one of the Rohingya who bitterly says “I hate Buddhist” after having lost virtually all that he owned.

In summary, the article is neutral because it mentioned both sides of the story on every aspect that it mentioned but like the previous article it also failed to mention the role of foreign powers on the conflict.

3.3 Article 3

Burma blocks opening of official form Islamic body (OIC)

BBC, 2012 stated that Burma president has closed a global Islamic body (OIC) to support Rohingyas Muslims on ethnic Burmese, conflict in the west Burma.

The Rakhine Buddhist Burmese leader, Ottamathara according toned is against any OIC office being opened according to AFP news agency. But the OIC claims BBC, president decision in relation to opening OIC had not been notified. The main cause of clash had begun late may when a Buddhist woman was raped and killed by three Muslims.

According to Burmese government Rohingyas are non-citizen. While the clashes went more violent across the state, affecting house of Rakhine and Rohingya on fire. Both parties feel victimized, where thousands flee back their homes leaving dead bodies behind.

View points

After observing and going through various websites and enough articles that uncover the Burma ethnic conflict. It is unethical women being misused as the horror incident by three muslim men bought tragic in rakine community and a the end of humanity. Women exploitation should be stopped and protected by the family, society and a nation against women exploitation.

Secondly, any party or organization should not interfere and support the crime.

Finally, whichever ethic party has created the crime must be judged and punished by the state government.

4.0 Analysis

To fully make sense out of this conflict, one must have to analyze the conflict in great detail. Some of the questions that come into mind are: why is this conflict happening at this time in Burma’s history (Burma is on a transition to democracy after decades of autocracy and also its open its doors to the international community especially to the West)? Why is the Burmese government part of the violence? Why has the Western governments and Chinese Government remained silent over the issue? If this was Buddhist vs. Muslim conflict, why aren’t other Buddhist groups besides those in Rakine involved, and also not other Muslim groups involved? Why is the Burmese government vehemently regarding the Rohingya as immigrants after having lived more than three decades?

The answers to these critical questions are key to understanding the conflict.

First, the differences in religion are not the cause of the problem. We believe that the Burmese government is trying to flush out the Rohingya people who despite living for many decades , is still considered as immigrants and the timing of the conflict is important because there is no better time than since now their relation with the international community is at its best.

In addition, the fact the government soldiers in many cases either turned a blind eye when the Rohingya are being attacked or took part in the violence seems to suggest political motive behind the violence. UN bodies have also played important role in solving the ethnic conflict though Burma authorities rejected a UN – led inquiries.

BBC, voice of America, US- backed radio free Asia and Norway based opposition station democratic voice of Burma has been only a source of foreign information that has been taking steps cautiously and keeping tracks to unfold Burmese conflict cause and effect on both parties.

5.0 Recommendations:

  1.   We strongly recommend that the root cause of the problem be solved first, that is the issue of the identity and the status of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, they should be not remain stateless as this  violates their rights and it’s against international law

  2. Secondly , there should be a thorough investigation on the whole conflict and  those involved be tried in an international tribunal or even by the ICC(international criminal court) we also recommend that the investigation should not be headed by the Myanmar Government officials instead it should be done by an independent body like the U.N

  3. And finally we believe that there should be dialogue between the Rakine and the Rohingya people so that   there can be a reconciliation.



References for Article 1:

Guardian News and Media Limited. (2012). Burmese Muslims targeted in communal violence, says Amnesty. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from

References for Article 2:

Guardian News and Media Limited. (2012). Burma: escalating violence signals religious war. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from

References for Article 3:

News Asia. (2012). Burma blocks opening of office for Islamic body OIC. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from

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