Tim Watts Critical Commentary: “Elderly Woman’s Killing Lays Bare Myanmar’s Religious Divisions”

Posted on November 22, 2013 by

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Religious clashes has been a part of world history and has defined some cultures altogether, like the Crusades and the Holocaust. These clashes continue to happen to this very day, with the continuing fights/battles of Buddhists and Muslims in the country of Burma/Myanmar. The article I will be commenting on is the New York Times article ““Elderly Woman’s Killing Lays Bare Myanmar’s Religious Divisions,” written by Thomas Fuller.

In the article, Fuller goes on to describe how the death of Ms. Daw Aye Kyi, “a helpless elderly woman,” shows the religious divisions in Burma/Myanmar. In the article, Ms. Aye Kyi, a Muslim, was paralyzed from the waist down and was being carried by her daughter and granddaughter to escape from a Buddhist mob that was armed with machetes and knives. The weight of poor Ms. Aye Kyi was too great and they forced to leave her behind to save themselves. The mob ignored Ms. Aye Kyi’s pleas for mercy, stabbed her six times, and placed her next to the “smoking cinders of her wooden house” as a message for the other Muslims of the surrounding areas (Fuller 1). Fuller goes onto talk about how the violence has been growing since June 2012 (the start of the violence) and has been moving away from the border of Bangladesh and Rohingya (a stateless group of Muslims). He also talks about how the Ms. Aye Kyi’s death shows how the anti-Muslim movement in Myanmar is spreading and becoming nationwide.

My first impression of this article was it was trying very hard not to be bias, but eventually was in favor of the Muslims. Fuller tries to show the other side, but does it in a condescending way with the Buddhists believing that the murder of Ms. Aye Kyi was not cruel (1). Then, Fuller shows his true bias with his quote from Daw Than Than—a fellow Muslim women from the village where Daw Aye Kyi died. As quoted by Daw Than Than, “They [Buddhists] hate Islam and they want it to disappear from the country” (2). Fuller goes on to end his article with the following quote: “If you encounter a tiger, you run away if possible…But if you cannot run, you have to fight back” (2). This shows his bias for the Muslims as victims and the Buddhist as the aggressors.

I see that many factors could have influence this article. They include political and social, factors. For political factors, Myanmar/Burma is a military-ran dictatorship and has “state-run news media,” so it does not have the “best” political system in the world (Democracy). So, giving the country bad press may indirectly influence their decision to change political systems. For social factors, the killing of a specific culture is known as genocide and that is illegal globally through the Geneva Convention of 1948 and General Assembly Resolution 260. So, the article could be trying to bring up the current genocide in Myanmar and hopefully the International Criminal Court can help bring justice to it.

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/world/asia/elderly-womans-killing-lays-bare-myanmars-religious-divisions.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&src=recg&

Fuller, Thomas, “Elderly Woman’s Killing Lays Bare Myanmar’s Religious Divisions”, New York Times, 11/20/2013Image

David Hogsholt for The New York Times under Creative License

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