Final Project Conflicts in Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims and the Media

Posted on December 13, 2013 by

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Recently, there has been an increase in conflict between the Buddhist population and Muslim population in Myanmar.  Buddhists, being the larger portion of the population in Myanmar has been violently attacking the Muslims which are the minority of the population.  These violent attacks have led too much of the Muslim population to flee for their lives.  The Muslims fleeing have ranged from your average person to even extremely high government officials.  This conflict has existed for many years and seems to rise to the surface and follow every few years.  In 1992 was a year in which 2000 people were killed with this same conflict.  As this conflict has surpassed the twenty year mark, how much has changed?  To answer this question I will delve into the both sides of the media covering this as well as how this conflict is predicted to act in the years to come.

As one would expect, depending on the media source, there is a bias as how the article is written.  For example, if the article is written by a Buddhist, they will be very critical in Muslim tradition as well as blame the Muslim for starting the attacks. This is the case in a few of the articles below. This article says that the Muslims had kidnapped Buddhist monks and brutally murdered them.  This started the conflicts and resulted in Buddhists attacking Muslims to avenge the death of their monks.  The article then goes on to state that because the Buddhists are the majority in Myanmar they have more force to exert on the Muslims and therefore looks more brutal and inhumane.  They counter this inhumane claim by saying that they were attacked first and are just using their resources to protect themselves.

The counter to this is articles written by Muslims.  They tend to view that they are being they were blamed for the attacks and now they are being forced out from their homes and have nowhere to go.  They also argue that they are taking all legal course of action to make it a better life in Myanmar for themselves.  With an upcoming election in Myanmar, they are campaigning to get more Muslims elected in a very Buddhist dominated government.  The main arguing points for Muslims is that they are the victim and are being forced to leave all of their property in order to live as well as are doing everything legally possible to make a better life for themselves.

There are very few non biased or equally biased articles on the matter.  This seems to be primarily from the conflicts between Muslims and Christians.  In my research, this generally makes most Christians fall onto the side of the Buddhists.  This is because when Christians, especially western Christians hear about Muslims, it is viewed as a negative action caused by the Muslims.  This extends bias towards Muslims.  On the flip side, when western Christians hear about Buddhism, the first thought is generally to older, peaceful monks meditating.  Using the viewpoints of Christians on Buddhists and Muslims, we see that the Buddhists are supposedly peaceful while the Muslims are violent attackers.  This leads to more Christians being on the side of the Buddhists and trying to protect them.  This makes the exposure for Muslims very difficult but is possible.  This is possible through the extension of their world-wide population.  One article thinks that in the future years, this will become a world-wide battle between Muslims and Buddhists and not just occur in Myanmar.  The large population of the Muslims is expected to even the tides and could result in an all-out war in Myanmar.

The other option for the result of this conflict is peace.  In most of the articles I read, this seemed to be a solution that there were very little talks about.  If it was mentioned, it seemed like a very unlikely solution and very difficult to come too.  Many articles dismissed it as an option all together.  One article talked that a government’s representation should be based on the population make up.  This article proceeded to state that if this was done, there could eventually be some balance between to the two sides.  This however seems like a far-fetched plan to me because the Muslims have such a low population in Myanmar and are losing more and more people every day that eventually, the population could be one hundred percent Buddhist resulting in zero options for Muslims in this state.

Overall, the articles written about the conflicts in Myanmar are extremely biased depending on which side you are on.  The Buddhists believe that they were attacked first and are just defending themselves and their country while the Muslims feel that they were attacked and are being overly attacked to the point that they must flee from their homes.  The results seem to be based on either all-out war between the entire population of the two sides or peace, the first seemingly more likely by the articles I have read.

Jan Perlez, Opening a Door to the Burmese Past, and the Present, Too, New York Times, September 1, 2013

Jared Ferrie and Min Zayar OO, Myanmar Buddhist Committee, bans anti-Muslim organizations, Reuters, September 11, 2013

Frank Jack Daniel, Religious riots kill 31 in India, Prompt Political Blame Game, World News, September 9  2013

AP, Buddhist mob kills 94-year-old woman

, USA Today, October 1 2013

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