‘Buddhist’ Thugs Make Their Comeback

There is no doubt that the violent attacks on Muslims in Meiktila, a garrison city in central Burma, were politically motivated. It has been a gruesome spectacle. Muslims were beaten, dragged out into the streets, doused with petrol and burned alive.

The police were slow to restore law and order. As the attackers, who were armed with knives, machetes and walkie-talkies, roamed the city, the police just stood by and watched. Some thugs allegedly pushed though police lines to attack Muslims, and still the police did little to protect them, according to eyewitnesses.

Min Ko Naing, a former student leader and prominent activist, rushed to the scene with some monks to stop the violence. At one point, a group of people involved in the attacks threatened to kill them.

When he arrived Meiktila, Min Ko Naing pleaded with the marauding mobs to stop their attacks. His words were not well received, however, and he was forced to retreat. Within hours, photos likening him to an Al Qaeda terrorist were posted on Facebook. This came after weeks of anti-Muslim vitriol filled social media sites. Clearly, there has been a very well-orchestrated campaign to vilify Muslims in Burma and discredit anyone seen as sympathetic to them.

Journalists were among those singled out for intimidation. Despite efforts to silence them, however, many said that the violence they witnessed seemed systematic and well-planned.

Several witnesses and reporters on the ground said that the killers rode around the city on motorcycles looking for Muslims to murder. Nobody made any attempt to stop them. In addition, “monks” from other parts of the country joined in the carnage, while local authorities stood idly by.

Aung Zaw is founder and editor of the Irrawaddy magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]

It’s hard to believe that Burma’s security forces and riot police, who have a reputation for ruthlessly suppressing protests, have suddenly lost their nerve. In 1988, they did not hesitate to gun down people who took to the streets to call for an end to military rule. And in 2007, they violently cracked down on monks without a second’s thought. So what happened in Meikhtila?

Many suspect that last week’s violence in central Burma involved the same people who took part in attacks and riots in Arakan State last year. But so far there is no evidence to support this claim. I’m more inclined to believe that masterminds behind the Meikhtila attacks are people too big to catch. The government has yet to apprehend anyone involved in the recurring spasms of violence that continue to traumatize the country.

So who organized the attacks? One theory is that hardcore elements in the establishment are behind the violence. Some speculate that they may be enemies of the Thein Sein government who want to undermine the president’s reforms. Others suggest that the malefactors may be powerful countries and businessmen who feel that they are losing out because of Burma’s new opening to the outside world.

At any rate, the clear winners here are the military, which was called in to quell the riots after Thein Sein ordered a state of emergency last Friday. In the current atmosphere, the sight of troops in the streets is almost reassuring. This has raised fears that if the situation deteriorates further, the military could take over the reins of power completely to restore law and order.

It is also clear that Burma’s Buddhists—particularly its monks—have suffered an enormous black eye due to the actions of a shadowy group of chauvinists who have used religion as a pretext for terrorizing a segment of Burma’s population.

The sad truth, however, is that this is not the first time that Buddhism has been twisted beyond recognition to serve the interests of a tiny cabal with malicious intentions. After all, for half a century, successive military dictatorships employed a grotesque parody of Buddhism to manipulate the masses.

Non-Buddhists have always had a hard time in Burma’s armed forces, at least since independence in 1948. But the situation deteriorated even further after the military seized power in 1962, after which only ethnic Burman Buddhists stood any chance of rising through the ranks.

The military also sought to impose ethnic purity on the nation as a whole, by relegating non-Burmans and non-Buddhists to the very fringes of society. Eventually, even Buddhists, who watched helplessly as their religion was degraded by power-hungry murderers, were marginalized along with everyone else who did not wear a uniform.

Although they portrayed themselves as devout Buddhists, Burma’s military rulers showed no compassion toward anyone who did not bow before them. They repressed not only ethnic minorities, but also critics and dissidents, often with brutal force.

The outcome is that we now have countless “Buddhist extremists” in Burma. Sadly, they are everywhere. They are out on the streets and sitting in Parliament, wearing military fatigues, business suits and monk’s robes.

So the rise of “Buddhist” fascists in Burma comes as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed the machinations of the country’s rulers over the past half-century. Their presence in the streets of Meikhtila is no more than a throwback to the darkest days of military rule, and one that will not be exorcised easily.

69 Responses to ‘Buddhist’ Thugs Make Their Comeback

  1. Than shwe is now showing his USDP power to all poor Burmese with his well designed plan to kill symstematically all minorities for his aim of bamanization as well as Buddhinisation. Than shwe wants to be bama national hero to overcome G-Aung san. Because China ( now inpatient) might ask than shwe to stop killing kachin so his bamanization is started to be failed now. Therefore , than shwe diverts all Burmese attention to show the important of his private army to poor and helpless Buremse people wtih his intention of Buddhinization as well as let those naive Buremse to kill each others. Than shwe does not care about or is not interested in the rebuilding of economy of Burma becasue than shwe and his all cronies are rich. Those are the reasons for him to making small unrests in Burma to prolong his survival to brake the speedy of democracy or change in Burma. The more quicker to change to democracy, their terrible outcome or ending from their countless crimes in killing monks, own peoples and ethnics is more and more nearer to come.
    First ,than shwe creates anti-China, then anti-Rohygyia and anti-Muslim to stir up Burma into the mess where DASSK needs to clean very soon without military power. If DASSK refuses to take the post of next Burmese president due to the messy rubbish or most of the citites are in under curfew of bama military thugs, min aung laing will take control again Burma. Therefore, their smart phones ( than shwe and min aung laing) are out of power when DASSK or thein sein are and were unable to call them for early action on this religious or racial eruptions. Than shwe’s party is making big gambling again just after DASSK was scolded by than shwe’s men in copper mines. Let see what and how will China and US play the game with than shwe’s stragtegy. US admires than shwe’s puppet, thein sein for reform ( candidate for noble peace price). China is holding paper businees or payment reciepts from than shwe but all sold are in Burma under other names ( thein sein and min aung laing). However, min aung laing and thein sein have no talk.
    Than shwe also tells and told China that his private bama army has a joint military exercise training with super power USA army very soon. The reason is to kill Wa army, supported by China. Than shwe aslo tells China that he does not need to kill his own Burmese but all Burmese will kill each other to be more weaker and wealer. As such, all Buremse particularly Buddhsit monks are too weak and too poor to revolve him so China’s veto card in UN is no longer useful now for than shwe. Than shwe is very confident that UN is paper tiger with the influence of both and China from the early to the end for him. Than shwe also awares that Syria’s rebels have guns but poor Burmese people have no gun. US and China are fear in each others now. Than shwe’s teacher , North Korea is scolding louder and louder on US and UN. Let see, who will win this game. However i do not want to see that Burma will be devided into North ( China influence) and South ( US influence-Thai) very soon. Anyhow, than shwe thinks he is more smarter than general Aung san so DASSK is his toy or his youngest sister.

    • Since former Gen. TS was trained in Psychology Warfare, Norman Hla’s analysis, at first blush sounds incredible but on second look, some of it has a ring of truth. Who knows?

  2. Absolutely agreed.

    These are well-planned attacks, the rumours of possible attacks are spreading on the internet as early as one week before it was started.

    I strongly believe Burmese military thugs are behind all these attacks. Those Buddhist thugs are hired by the military thugs to commit all these criminal acts. Some Buddhists extremists are secretly or openly supporting this massacre and trying to justified themselves it was the right thing to do, by claiming ALL Musilims are extremists and they are enemies to the whole world.

    The truth is, either you claim yourself a Buddihist or a Muslim, none of your religious portrayed as a good religion, if you feel hatred as a result of the love of your own religion.

  3. So when we all know that the common denominator is the racist chauvinist military, why do we want to give them a second chance and prolong their domination of our nation’s political and economic life?

    Isn’t it incumbent upon all of us in the interest of the diverse races of Burma to strive and throw off the military yoke altogether? There is no half way house nor compromise and reconciliation with this group of thugs remain a viable option.

    ASSK has her work cut out if the commission she chairs is supposed to preside over rule of law and tranquility (sic. Or is it a cruel joke played and a killer stroke executed on her by her gaolers turned allies as their priceless fall guy?

  4. Aung Zaw,
    I don’t know when you have converted to Islam, but I don’t care. You should say ‘some misguided Buddhists’ instead of Buddhist thugs. Your title insulted the whole Buddhist community of the world.
    I didn’t like what has happened in Meiktila and I’m very much sympathise the Bamar Muslim community and specifically women and children. I blamed the extremists who used the incident to their benefit. This incident was, in fact, not planned, but keen and cunning guys took this opportunity to arouse the people who were innocently angry with what illegal Bengalese in Rakhine had done to our Buddhist brethren there. This incident is a kind of coincidence to all frustrations. Of course, there were a few monks and may be a few authorities involved in this scheme in later stage.

    The main culprits were the Gold Jewellery shop owners and their collaboratives. I myself have had two such experiences in Yangon open air market back in 1970s and 80s. People and the authority became aware of those bullies when the victim was being a marathon runner, Ma Wait Pan.

    I suggest you to be more careful not to use Buddhist thugs next time. There are no Buddhist terrorists and suicide bombers in the world. You never use Muslim thugs raped Rakhine girls and ladies for so long a time or so.

    May be you want to use this opportunity to persuade donor for your magazine, but think twice before you act again.

    • Nyunt Shwe, your obvious “misguided-ness” is only to be outdone by your “Illusory correlation” or “Cognitive bias” in the aforementioned article, for nowhere have I found the term “Buddhist Thugs”!? In contrast, Aung Zaw has specifically pointed out that crimes committed where orchestrated by a minority of self-serving persons “The sad truth, however, is that this is not the first time that Buddhism has been twisted beyond recognition to serve the interests of a tiny cabal with malicious intentions”
      You have also solidified his argument of how a minority can manipulate the masses, as you yourself have been manipulated into defending the indefensible.
      Your argument is weak and ill-informed based on little evidence, whereas Aung Zaw has based his on multiple direct sources. You can try to fool your kinsmen in Myanmar but you are not fooling educated or worldly foreigners who have access to broader news sources than the polarized version of “news” your “brethren” are receiving. It is quite clear to all that the Burmese government has genocidal intentions that have been at work for half a century or more for a multitude of religions and ethnicity’s.

      A Buddhist.

    • Dear Nyunt Shwe
      .You wrote “This incident was, in fact, not planned, but keen and cunning guys took this opportunity to arouse the people who were innocently angry with what illegal Bengalese in Rakhine had done to our Buddhist brethren there. This incident is a kind of coincidence to all frustrations. Of course, there were a few monks and may be a few authorities involved in this scheme in later stage.”
      Your above statement is not the good reason to attack Irrawaddy, Aung Zaw to whom you are prejudiced. Aung san made criticism on some Buddhist Rakhine’s behavoir on Rohyinga issue. You used “innocently angry people” but you do not want to admit that those innocent did not behave as good Buddhists so those are Buddhist thugs. It is fair to name them as Buddhist thugs. They kill innocent Muslim under the name of Buddhists.
      You wrote “This incident was, in fact, not planned” You are guessing without any clue or evidence or your presence there. Aung Zaw must have photos or video or witness proof before he say anythings because he is qualified journalist. From Aung zaw’ writing flow and tone, Aung zaw is not guessing. Maung Kyaw Nu, former political prisoner said that he was well informed that there was a racial clash from Buddhist thugs on Muslim in Pegu division before it did happen. However, there was no effective and urgent control from your than shwe, ming aung laing. Could you answer this question under the name of Buddhism?
      If the above argument from me to you is not enough , see below.

      I do not think it is a big deal to call Buddhist’s thugs or faked Buddhist or misguided Buddhist in this situation. Aung Zaw wrote and used this terminology ( Buddhist thugs) is totally relevant. You know that those mobs killed and are killing those Muslim with the slogan of naming themselves Buddhists By doing so, they can mislead naive other real Buddhist Burmese to participate with them. Do you think who will participate in this misleading situation? Do you want to say Chinese, Christian , Hindu and other ethnics to kill Muslim, not naive Burmese Buddhists? Do you think that your “than shwe” asks and pays Chinese ,Christian, Hindu and Muslim to kill Muslim? Will Than shwe not ask Buddhist Burmese to kill Muslim? I want to hear your reply from your common and logical senses the true and real Buddhists have. Please, think twice before you want to show off the forever arrogant altitude, like bama military thugs under the name of Buddhism. I want to request you that do not use “Shwe” in your name because as a Buddhism , i do not like Than shwe or Shwe man or Mr. Shwe but i am not arrogant. I feel nauseated and ogre ( my psychological reaction is normal one) when i hear and read “shwe” in the Burmese name. I hope that all educated and knowledgeable German also will not name their sons “Hitler” after WW2. As a Rakhine or Arankanese, “shwe” is the good name for them, i have nothing to say upon this name issue if you are Rakhine. I also do not like “Shwe Ba” Burmese famous actor in around 1960 because my grandmother told me U Shwe Ba acted as a thief or robber or rapist in all his movies.

    • We have had several ethnic clashes- Chinese-Burmese (Tayoke-Bamah), Indian-Burmese (Kalah-Bamah), Karen-Burmese (Kayin-Bamah) and Rakhine-Rohingya clashes. we have never used Buddhist-Muslim, Buddhist-Christian clashes. I would like to request the media to refrain from using religious terms in this clash.

      • Yebaw

        What is so called in Meiltila clash appropriately or truly without pride and prejucide? Is it kalah-Bama clash or darker and merely lighter Burmese color clash or else instead of Muslim-Buddhist clash. Do you think half of the all Bama ladies and men become Muslim belief for some reason ( eg marriage)? Therefore , there is no religious clash in Burma.
        If Bama ladies or men become to believe in Muslim for some reasons ( eg marriage), do you want to still call them Bama otherwise Muslim-bama?. Do you want to say honestly it is not religious clash in Meiktila incident but racial clash. You can not answer above, you are illogical and lack of common sense or else ( pride and prejudice as faked Buddhism).

    • I am surprised that you are siding with BUDDIST ARKANESE ( buddist taliban) because someone rape a woman who happens to be muslim you kill thousands of muslim, and still dare to say BUDDIST ARKANESE are innocent, WOW. A dispute between a muslim merchant and a buddist buyer justify killing, destroying warship places, destroying properties, displacing thousand of places, WOW, If a religious school is built in your neighborhood you have the right to complain not to take law in your hand and demolish it, every BUDDIST TALIBAN IS ABOVE THE LAW IN MYANMAR, last but not least will you tell me what these innocent muslims must do to be equal, should they turn BUDDISTS,?

  5. The police in Burma are well known to sometimes act like illiterate savages. And the government has their own secret police who wear normal clothing to blend in with civilians so they can spy on people and commit horrible acts while pointing the finger at others. Now that Burma is opened up and working toward reforms, they could use the help of UN Peacekeeping troops to protect Muslims from being burned alive by mobs. I applaud the courage of the Irrawaddy Press in reporting the news. I wish everyone involved good luck and peace.

  6. It is an apt calling: “a throw back to the darkest days of military rule” a commonsense presumption; presumption, because the culprits are “not identified”, though known as a group (if not,why did the police stand by?), by police or military intelligence who are reputedly a very tidy organization of investigators as far as political protests and arrests are concerned. But ironically, this really was a display of dirty tricks by “politicians”, or thugs simply. The local police know, but only not wanting to be people who knew too much!!!. The USDP has too much money. How did they get it? They use that money to destroy the country.
    So, people please be ware. We don’t want “the darkest days” back in our lap.

  7. You are a brave man, Kp Aung Zaw. What needs to be said has to be said!
    Burmese should be very careful about separating religion (which is for me and individual thing) from politics and “nation-building”. Anyway, wasn’t Buddha from India (where the “kalars” come from?) The other danger is mixing up racism (together with religion) to define citizenship. There will be a census soon, so what questions do you ask? How should the constitution be changed to reflect a more modern and inclusive society? Is Federalism on the table? Instead of resolving these fundamental questions, almost all the political leaders are jostling for money, position and power (just like their predecessors!). Politics is not about hero-worshipping or power. Its about ethical values and moral leadership.
    I agree with you that there seems to be a master plan behind all of this “anti-Muslim fear-mongering” and it is probably a combination of the two factors you named: some of the hardcore ex-junta-members that are controlled and bribed by a big neighbouring country (starts with C!) that is seething mad not to have anticipated “Obama’s kiss”. Peking was caught flat-footed with their greedy fingers in the Burmese honey-pot and “losing face” is a big deal for Chinese! I find it “amusing” and revealing to read articles about “Mian-dian” in Chinese official newspapers. They are more of these articles during the last few months and it’s all very contradictory (the Chinese made a big fuss about Suu Kyi’s report on their copper mine for example!)

    • The article is about the Meithila incident – your bashing of your neighbor country is out of way here – besides, based on ASSK’s report, the contract complies to your country’s law. Like in any law-abiding country, all parties are bound by the contract — maybe it’s not a law and order country yet.

      • I disagree with Suu Kyi’s report. Suu Kyi is now “sleping with the enemy”. The MoU’s that Than Shwe signed under coercion and bribes from the Chinese (including 50 million bucks for Tay Za) are not binding for people who are voiceless and suffering in Burma. Suu Kyi does not speak for them anymore (and many people in the West don’t trust her anymore) but there are things called revolutions. The Proletariat can rise. Even Mao understood that.
        For millennia, Han Chinese have viewed the periphery as populated by barbarians and it is a mark of Chinese history to “civilize”, “pacify” and “sinicize” them (i.e., bring them under Chinese cultural, economic and genetic control). This is the 21st century. The Chinese should stop destroying the environment in Burma and stop treating poor rural people like “Untermenschen”. Enough is enough!

  8. Good commentary–hats off to Aung Zaw for his bravery and courage to write/analyst this sensentive but important and essential issue. I am waiting to see many interesting comments coming up soon!

  9. I am afraid the country is now at risk. We need strong law and national security to protect the citizens of Myanmar. The group of Buddhist terriorists should be punished by the authorities.

  10. Thank you for this article, Aung Zaw. Just published, this report discusses the deeply-rooted issues that are fanning the flames of hatred and intolerance: http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/images/uploads/An_international_task_force_is_needed_to_help_tackle_growing_religious_violence_in_Burma.pdf

  11. How come you never wrote the the atrocities of Muslims? What made you prevent from saying that the violence in Meikhtila began with the killing of a monk by Muslim thugs? Is that George Soros’ dollar you have received, who is openly taking side of Muslims?

    • Please don’t believe to the fabricated lies to incite hatred on each other. It all started by an argument in a gold shop. It’s just a shame thattoo many malicious people turned it into a horrible tragedy. All human beings deserve to live in peace in a civilized world.

    • How can he write about the killing of a monk by Muslim thugs when such thing hasn’t happened in Meikhtila?

  12. “God Bless You for The Commentary!”
    Your Reward Is Waiting In Heaven!

  13. Religion is taking too much centre stage in Burma, as result of half a century military rule, when the dictators intoxicated the masses systematically with religious fervor to divert people’s attention away from them, to temporarily forget about life’s real problems and day to day hardship brought about by them.
    Nowadays, you can clearly feel that common space in Burma becomes narrower and narrower.
    Those so-called “Buddhist” thugs in Burma are in fact Buddhist-equivalent of Osama’s Al-Qaida gang less suicide bombers. There is nothing other to differentiate these two groups, religious extremists and fascists, who understand nothing about negotiation, compromise, tolerance and living in harmony.
    Poverty and lack of any effort educating the children to tolerate each other makes it a perfect fertile ground for such groups to grow. Absolute poverty acts as conveyor belt of destitutes to take care of manpower part. Hopefully coming democratic governments can change the situation learning lessons from developed nations and neighbouring countries, though it will take generations.

  14. What happen to “Burmese were known for their kindness, generosity, gentle and wise”? What happen to those quality, I am wondering? I do not need to attack any body to preserve my faith, my identity and my culture. What happened in Myeittylar is total insult to Humanity. One thing is for sure, we can’t let extremism win in this fight. If we can not protect vulnerable people of the society, our society will be vulnerable. Hatred will only bring dark, sorrow, and everything relate to evil. Burma should not go down to that path. I still believe in majority Burmese people will do the right thing and open minded when it comes to religions and faith. What we should have much more beautiful than religion is humanity. As human being, if we loose humanity, we loose it all. Cheer to Ko Aung Zaw, I admire your article.

  15. See the inverted commas in the title?

    I agree with Ko Aung Zaw — this has “military plot” written all over it – “Let them want democracy, they will have to call in army to restore order.”

    Anyone know if Meikhtila is a predominantly NLD town? I know in Helsinki in 2008, when we last met, Ko Aung Zaw suggested that in the Nargis obstruction of cyclone aid, it was suspected that the regime wished to punish the Delta Karen –

    These incidents are also to show the world, people, that the army can do what it likes – security standing by is also a trademark – until final shootings – see 1962, 1970s U Thant episode, 1988, 2007, list goes one –

    Ko Aung Zaw, this time you have really told the Truth – now what?

    Also folks, I don’t know if you have seen these, but there are items going around the Internet about how bad the gold merchant couple were, complete with photos of the gold bracelets involved. Now who would have these but?? –

    According to a reliable source, this couple, perhaps junta agents or mercenaries, have already been “fed to the mob”.

    There’s also someone named Tony Carlucci – who is writing that “Aung San Suu Kyi’s Saffron Monks” are doing this.

    I don’t think people know that there are monks and there are monks, and in Burmese Buddhism anyone can put on a robe and take the vows for as short as 24 hours or a few days. And there are many sects within the mainstream – Mandalay’s Yahan Pyo were always militant – Anyone can buy a robe and shave his head – does not need to go into an ordination hall.

    It is well known also that Ne Win Government wanted to control and register monks –

    and also USDA (Union Solidarity Development Association) a. k. a. Hitlerite Brown Shirts – were active up to 2007, and 2008, and there is also Possessors of Strength (Swan Ahr Shin) – and in 1988 they were called Lon Htein – so, one can’t suppose that these have all been disbanded like lightning and all disappeared.

    If it is any comfort to you, (poor comfort of course) Nazis remained under cover in W. Germany decades after Hitler committed suicide and Allied Armies marched in, and some were even in judiciary – this is well documented.

    About 2009 I heard a rumor that Swan Ahr Shin leader/founder had been eliminated as he “knew too much.’

    In 1988, after the clamp down or shoot down, Ms. Maureen Aung Thwin wrote in Foreign Affairs Magazine – “Once again the military has held things together.”

  16. Excellent wrting. Thank you very much..

  17. Aung Zaw, don’t be so elated hearing hollow praises. You know, every one who saw Kyi-ah-thee praises it, too, since the fruit is bright red and desirable by look. I don’t support torture or murder, but I avoid blaming only one side constantly and lobbying the illegal Bengalese cause. You’ve already got rich with the fund for Myanmar people donated by international organisations, but why are you so greedy to get more from the Islamic side? You’re like selling out your own mother. Shame on you, Aung Zaw!!!

    • I don’t think he is blaming on “Buddhism”, the teachings of Buddha. He is blaming on “Buddhist thugs” who did/do not follow the teachings of Buddha.

      You can’t protect them forever when they mispresented Buddhism in such an ugly way. Unfortunately, the essence of a religion can only be reflected by the behaviors of the followers.

    • When some one speaks the truth you dont like it, NYUNTSHWE do you know that you are shamming your mother.

  18. It is not very bad situation if Irrawaddy Aung Zaw wrote that he has a video or photos proofs that the racial clash happened in Miktila easily and readily. Now, Maung Kyaw nu, former political prisoner also said he was informed by someone that there was a another racial clash in Pegu division but there was no precaution from than shwe as military power is in his hand. Both blame on than shwe’s private army to ignore those clashes. It happened easily and readily. I hope we all Burmese might understand and do not go into the trick and traps of than shwe. Burma will be divided into 2 pieces very soon so min aung laing should resign or be sacked and DASSK must be chief of military force urgently to control this situation urgently. The victims are not than shwe and his cronies, not China, not USA. We all Burmese will suffers endlessly in this than shwe’s game. If those racial clash is turned out to be demanding the resignation of min aung laing for his poor action and performance, what does than shwe will act on ? DASSK and 88 should go out to the streets to demand ming aung laing’s resignation. DASSK should demand to get military power in herself for urgent control and investigation. DASSK must show that she is not than shwe’s toy but she is fox, than shwe’s teacher. Now, than shwe and his USDP are testing DASSK’s people power with his private military thugs.

  19. ” God is Great” !! But Pope Benedict XVI said in emotional farewell speech in St Peter’s Square, “when it seemed that the Lord was sleeping.”

  20. Congratulations, Mr. Aung Zaw, for this wonderful article!! For those who criticize Mr. Aung Zaw, please read the article again (Nyunt Shwe, plz read the news piece again). The writer does not in any way attack or even find fault with Buddhism. He is simply pointing out those people or groups that abuse religion (in this case, Buddhism) and misuse if for their own self-interest.

    Oh, by the way, how did taing-yin-tha people feel when their wooden and concrete crosses, the symbols of their Christian faith, were forcibly demolished and destroyed in Kachin State, Chin State, Karen State and some parts of Shan State in the 1990s and 2000s? How did taing-yin-tha feel when their farmlands, religious land plots and religious structures were confiscated in the 1960s through 2000s in Myanmar?

    They did not and do not blame Buddhism per se. The did not and do not criticize the teachings of Buddhism. They know that Buddhism embodies mit-ta and peace. Instead taing-yin-tha people know that there are behind-the-scene people who have abused and misused religions to serve their own selfish interest, such as what Mr. Aung Zaw describes as Buddhist thugs or extremists.

    Unfortunately, the thug and extremist virus is spreading uncontrollably as we have seen it happening in Rakhine and Meiktila.

  21. Is there an answer to the grat problems of Birma or Myanmar? How anybody can sleep quietly in Birmy or Myanmar after hundred of deads, hundreds of Muslim brothers and sisters? These crimes will follow you for 100 years. We have the experiences in Germany 75 years ago. 75 years ago the Nazis have killed 6 Millions of Jewish peaple. The sons and grand sons are suffering because of these crimes. In cilling these Muslims Burma will suffer for generatins.
    Let all of us come back to the teaching of the Lord Buddha. The teaching of tolerance even with our enemies. It is easy to be tolerant with your own family. To be tolerant with Muslims
    is difficult but it will help you not to wake up in the night by seeng all the horrible pictures of burned Muslims.
    Christian Thomas Kohl
    A Buddhist from Germany
    With German and Jewish family

  22. I’m very sorry for “Ko Aung Zaw” who did not learn about “Buddhism and Burma” when he was young in Burma because he was so busied to sell “Chicken”for “Living”. That’s he can’t go to school. Please, Don’t forget 88 Pro-democracy movement in Burma, otherwise you would not be like that. And you have to remember “Your Parents”,please. Thank you.

  23. i strongly believe that most of Myanmar people are easily and emotionally manipulated and misled to become ‘extremists’. It’s because a long-term rule of people who hate educated citizens and people who are prisoners of fear.

  24. Ko Aung Zaw, you may be right about hard liner military, Burman, Buddhist thugs play a serious role in this tragic event. My own theory has different direction but very similarity to your theory, which is may be related to Monywa, Letpadaung copper mine issue. Right before this violence erupted, it was copper mine issue everywhere. Is it the way of powerful business people set up this trap? Is it a shot of 2 birds with one stone? To come back military power, to forget about suffering of ordinary farmers in Monywa, some people intentionally commit this crime? All of these are theories to be prove the truth. One thing is for sure, some one or some groups are playing dirty games in Burma. These clever evil people know which button to push. If Burmese society is not wise enough, it is very dangerous path ahead of us. Burma should adopt Humanity before Faith and Religion. After all, we are all human being. Every one who died in this event are some one father, some one son, some one mother, some one daughter, some one brother, some one relative. What if that some one is one of your family member? Stop destroying the families!!! Fight for your freedom with open mind and wisdom rather than fear to the differences.

  25. Act lie lawless anarchy and so cruel .

  26. There he goes again, this character ‘adamanonge’, doing what he does best – China-bashing! Now, which country does he blame for the 1967 anti-Chinese riots and massacres in Rangoon – that is, if he was even around at that time ?

    I wonder if he blamed a country a big country spelled with a big ‘A’ (there were rumours that ‘A’ embassy was openly instigating rioters out of Sule Pagoda Road consulate – or a smaller NE Asia country spelled with a ‘J’ (history of marching into Burma in WWII invited, mind you, invited by ‘Yebaw Thone Kyaik’, one of whom is father of the much adored ‘Lady’.

    So much for ‘Tatmadaw Day’ commemorating anti-Japanese ‘revolution’.

    • Long Live The Great Helmsman Mao Tsetung who unsuccessfully tried to export his stupid Cultural Revolution into Burma with the help of the Communist Party of Burma (they didn’t call themselves Mianma in those days) during the mid 60’s
      Free Tibet! Free Sinkiang!

      • Before worrying about Tibet and Xinjiang, how about worrying about your own country’s minorities first?

        Free Kachin!
        Free Wa!
        Free Shan!
        Free Karen!
        Free Chin!
        Free Mon!
        Free Rakhine!
        Free Pa-O!
        And finally, Free the Muslims of Myanmar/Burma!

        • You mean free Wa from the Chinese?

          • an dam anon ge
            I do not and did not hear that Wa are killed by Chinese. I do hear that Wa were and are killed and raped by Bama military thugs. Now and then, Bama military thugs want to kill Wa after killing Kachin.

  27. For once, Ko Aung Zaw, you said it like it is even though ‘Irrawaddy’ is not known for ‘fair & balanced’ – to borrow a motto from an American conservative TV news media – when it comes to reporting Burma-China related news. (More pro-Western than ‘f ‘n b’)

    Kudoes, this time!

  28. The word Buddhist thugs is quite harsh. There are Buddhists who are traditional Buddhist meaning they call themselves Buddhist because their parents and ancestors are Buddhists and they have no idea what Buddhism is all about. They don’t even want to try. On the other hand there are practicing Buddhists who understand Buddhism so well they will not be a part of any killing or participate in any kind of mob behavior. People are following the crowd mentality in times of hardship as is true with any other nation in the world. The bottom line is poverty and the existence of a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots. This incidence might very well be the political play at its worse. I really think it boils down to poverty, anger, helplessness and worse yet, finding no way out.

    • What you described is a classic example of ruling class grossing over a serious problem by providing an ambiguous lip service. Chin state is the poorest in Burma and consists of many tribes who practice animism, Catholicism, Buddhism and so on. And kayar state is the second poorest. Yet There is no report of a Chin tribe beating up someone from another tribe just because they are starving. The regions where racial violence broke out are relatively more developed. Without hatred built up over time, poverty, anger and hopelessness alone do not spark a riot of such proportion.

  29. Myanmar Political tricks are all the same. Sometimes they use prinsoners to create voilence. Prinsoners were shaved and wore robes so that they become bogus monks and let them destroy religious buildings to become unrest. Then they say the military must take control and did that way. We all have to be very carefull as they will divert into Political unrest and they probably blame this were masterminds from outside world. Whether you notice or not I don’t know. The Minister comments it probably from foreign mastermind in it when the people say we saw “new faces”. People notice that the sticks mobs used were exactly the same and they are properly trained. The medias were asked to delete their photoes from the memory by mobs. These points could lead to suspicious activity of extremists led by ………?

  30. The White Shirts of the USDA have never gone away. Over the years, the degree of harassment, intimidation and outright violence the USDA has inflicted on the people of Burma has contributed to creating a climate of fear in the country. USDA, USDP and the junta are one and the same.

  31. The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organisation. Note that this mob is organised!

  32. I would like to add a few points to this discussion.

    1. Recently there have been similar attacks on Muslim businesses by apparent Buddhist mobs in Sri Lanka (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21840600). I wonder if monks in Burma have been influenced by the Sri Lankan Buddhist nationalist movements?

    2. I found it strange that the media keep talking about this shadowy group in Burma causing the recent carnage, and yet no journalists have made serious attempts to find out who they are, and what their aims are. We need an urgent journalistic investigation to expose these people, their methods, and organisation.

    3. I would like the people to understand that all politically motivated violence uses the divide-and-conquer technique. Please remember Martin Niemöller who explained the Nazi tactic as follows (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came…):

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    So, we must all remain united. Although they are attacking Muslims now, if we let them succeed, they will soon attack Christians, Hindus, Anamists, ‘liberal Buddhists’, and whoever that don’t agree with them. So, this is an attack not just on Muslims in Burma, but for everyone who want freedom and democracy.


    • I am totally with you.

      A lot of true Buddhists knew in their hearts that the recent attacks on Burmese Muslims were wrong but they could not speak up for the Muslim victims. Some might claim that they are protecting their religion(Buddhism) by not blaming on the Buddhist attackers but the truth is they are more afraid to be accused as Muslim sympathizers (traitors) by Buddhist extremists and their supporters who can attack anyone if not agree with them.

      We should not let the bad thing wins at any time. We should only let the truth wins!!

  33. I am not arguing who is responsible for those riots happening. God only knows. But I lost my respect to Ko Aung Zaw for using the word “Buddhist Thugs” as heading. It is so inflammatory!

    • Kun, you are very polite. That was the same word that made me angry when he posted the article. I wrote in my comment that this usage insulted the whole Buddhist communities of the wider world. I fully agree with you.

  34. I think your remark is very appropriate as a whole. Yes, it was about the same time, Sri Lanka has had such violence attack on Muslims. One Sinhalese claimed that Buddhist countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Afghanistan etc were converted by force in the history and Sri Lanka could not afford it to become so.

    One doubt about your assumption of negative, but organised forces were working to turn the tide is to me, a little early. I’m expecting that percussion to come around by the end of or early 2015 since they could be so sure of about the outcome of next election.

    The quote you use is very beautiful and I have that quotation, too, but the crisis now developing in Myanmar is not that simple. We need to go a little deeper. I don’t pretend I agree with Islamic teaching, but I abhor the killing and injuring all living being. You might have remembered or heard about the Kyaukkwin Ayaytawbon, a fair debate between the Christian clergies and Buddhist monks. I prefer that kind of challenge by words of mouth without hitting or burning one another. Increase of Muslim population is, I guess, alarming; one Canadian-Myanmar (Bengal) muslim estimated that their numbers can possibly be next to Bama’s. One Japan based Myanmar Muslim once said that there were about 4 to 5 million displaced Rohingya refugees that beloged to our country around the world that belonged to our country.

    My point here is we need to stop the forced conversion and to educate our citizens more about Buddhist teachings. In my view, the increase of their numbers shows the weakness of our system. I mean, our monks are hugely corrupted, but busied with politic and social things which were antithesis of Vinaya. So, there’s no real figures in our Sanga organisation. No monk is fully or even partially enlightened, because they do not meditate with perseverance.

    Well, there might be a lot of rural folks who participate in the destruction of Muslims, like the folks from the village from which the gold-comb sellers who were abused and beaten up by the shop owner in Meiktila, unfortunately being Muslims. (I was threatened by the shop owners in Open-air black market, Yangon in the 1970s twice and Ma Weippan, a female marathon champion was even beaten from the same market and got taken action by the official.

    Well, I cannot accept torture and killing and burning the houses and buildings and looting in any circumstances. I truly sympathise those who lost their lives both Muslims and Buddhists and their grief stricken families. Lives are precious.

    However, I don’t agree Aung Zaw’s use of ‘Buddhist Thugs’; I use alizzi or alijji monks and their blind followers. I read all religious canons and I would not call, for instance, Christian Thugs as I know the teaching of Jesus Christ is superb, too. I keep 5 precepts of the Buddha and hardly broken. I’ve some good Muslim friends and I worry for them.

  35. Well done Ko Aung Zaw!
    In Myanmar, there is saying ” You have to pound harder to your own rice” I am also a Myanmar Buddhist and i am always proud of being born in a country where Buddhism is preserved in its purest form. But these incidences show us that there are some monks and people who is seeking fame and political popularity by using religion. It is really easy for Adhamma to disguise as Dhamma and persuades the people of little knowledge and understanding of Buddhism to wrong way.
    If we look at the history,the main reason for Buddhism to faded away from India and other part of the world is not only because of influx of other religion but because of the monks and people who utilized and changed Buddhism for their own benefit. If we really want to keep Buddhism and our national identity intact, instead of killing other religion we have to sow the seed of pure dhamma in our own mind.
    Although freedom of speech is an integral part of democracy, content and quality of Dhamma talk given by monks to the general public should be strictly regulated by Sanga authority. With the growing popularity of Dhamma talk, some monks acquired fame like celebrities and some used carping remarks on other religion to attract more popularity.
    There might be some influence of a malicious organization but for me everyone is responsible for this shameful event. Timely correction of wrong thinking and start working hard towards building a better nation so that the world can see how a nation can grow under the shade Buddha Dhamma.
    Dr Nay Myo

    • I agree Dr Nay Myo, Ko Aung Zaw did very well. He used the inverted commas in the title of Buddhist is not Buddha’s Buddhist. What i like the words from his article to cut and paste as follow….”the violent attacks on Muslims in Meiktila, were politically motivated. The outcome is that we now have countless “Buddhist extremists” in Burma. Sadly, they are everywhere. They are out on the streets and sitting in Parliament, wearing military fatigues, business suits and monk’s robes.” See what’s he highlight about, I like it. Buddha never teach hate to others or other religions. Some Sangas (monk) are used by political motivators. They are making our country back to darkness.

  36. further additional comments to support Dr Nay Myo’s comments please may I humbaly highlight that friendship and business cannot mix. So as religious and politics cannot be mixed. If somebody is committed to do religious leadership, that person should not be a politician. Religious leader should only concentrate and focus on the development of religion practice in community. The politician should only concentrate on politic affairs to improve the country and the people. In Burma, all mixtures indeed. My innocent question is why let this happen by Department of Religious Affairs? To be fair, the line has to be drawn clearly and thorough investigation should be made and there must be rules and regulations if somebody wants to be a politician or a leader of any religious practice. Look at the world and what other politicians are. I don’t see any politician is a leadership of the religion. As you know politic can never become sincerity and honest. But the religious in any practice shows, honesty, sincerity, not to commit any crime or sins, not to tell lies and not to be pretening people, must have compassions, love, care, kindness etc. Therefore we cannot mix the politic and the religious practice. We all must learn from experience. If we do not learn, the country will be the same and Democracy will not be achieved.

  37. There are some good monks. They risked their lives to save others during the riots. I appreciate those monks. The monk Wirathu would not be able to provide any Bhuddah’s teaching where it mentioned against other religion. This is totally against Bhuddah’s teaching.When I saw Monks with sticks , knives and break in their hands, I could not believe my eyes.

    • You should know not all the shaved heads with yellow robes are monks. The monks who hurt the being were not monks at all. They are aliji or allizzi. Authority must disrobe and put them in jails.

  38. In some comments Muslims were blamed as they converts Burmese girls by force. Present days, Muslims have nothing to force other community to their religion. They do not have power. Only they have a good title to influence the girls is the name ” Kalar”. It is other way. Muslims girls are converting to Buddhist because of discrimination on every level for Muslims.

  39. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Aung Zaw has SAID ALL THERE IS TO BE SAID of course.
    The THUGS he meant were MASQUERADING under the BANNER and NAME of RELIGION during their RAMPAGE and hence he dubbed them like he did.
    That is NO CAUSE for ARGUMENT much less TAKE OFFENSE as well I guess.
    “It’s hard to believe that Burma’s security forces and riot police, who have a reputation for ruthlessly suppressing protests, have suddenly lost their nerve. In 1988, they did not hesitate to gun down people who took to the streets to call for an end to military rule. And in 2007, they violently cracked down on monks without a second’s thought. So what happened in Meikhtila?
    The ANSWER to what happened at Meikhtila IS BECAUSE IT IS “STATE SPONSORED” of course man!
    Of course KNOWING the ROOT and TRUTH of the MATTER, the POLICE PLAYED POSSUM and LOOKED the OTHER WAY, got it?
    Aung Zaw has TRULY and POINTEDLY SINGLED OUT the FACT: The recent UPHEAVALS in Burma between the Burmese Muslims and Buddhists are CRAFTED, ENGINEERED and EXECUTED by the LOT running Naypyidaw (Burma) to be precise though he has used his DISCRETION refraining from FINGERING the CULPRITS – members of the USDA and SWAN AH SHIN Than Shwe’s POCKET ARMY of HOODLUMS – of course
    Since DAY ONE Than Shwe has FORMED his POCKET ARMY of HOODLUMS for this sort of CONTINGENCY and others as well.
    Hence, Min Aung Hlaing went into IDLE MODE on the MARAUDING HORDES RUNNING AMOK on their BURNING and KILLING SPREES at Meikhtila and other luckless towns in Burma.
    Until today NO CULPRITS were ARRESTED much less PUBLICIZED for the CRIMES of course.
    Commissions to investigate the riots are formed and in order.
    And the REPORTS WOULD BE LOST with the TIME or made public UNSUBSTANTIAL and UNJUST as well in the same vein as in the case of the Letpadaung Copper Mine FIASCO citing SMOKE BOMBS in place of PHOSPHORUS INCENDIARY BOMBS were USED on the sleeping Buddhist monks and people on November 29, 2012 last, while FAILING to NAME or NAIL the CULPRITS responsible for the heinous crime as well.
    Hence, BEST BET for the PEOPLE ( Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and others) in BURMA is to KEEP CLOSE and TAKE CARE of ONE ANOTHER and USE their BRAINS (discretion) as well KNOWING THERE IS NO RULE of LAW much less ORDER and PEACE in the LAND today RUN by Than Shwe’s CLERK, Thein Sein folks.

  40. I think no commentary is more thought-provoking than Ko Aung Zaw’s for us, Burmese. Just look at the number of comments that came in, is coming in and will be coming in since he posted it on 25/03/13. Maybe his commentary will probably rank number one in Burma’s media history.

    In democracy, in a free and happy society, every issue no matter how sensitive should be put on the table and debated. Having media freedom is important for that purpose. At this juncture at our place called Burma, we have nobody to turn to for help in situations like this, especially from law-enforcement agencies to apply the rules of law since they themselves are in a shamble. Only we, citizens can depend ourselves by self-regulating our society by having enough courage calling a crook a crook, an angel an angel, criticizing the bad and praising and rewarding the good and good Samaritans.

    I really appreciate the Irrawaddy’s effort to reach out to U Wirathu in the aftermath of Meiktila incident, interview him and let him portray to the people and the world who he is and what he is thinking. Media must continue to engage radicals like U Wirathu from all sides in dialogues, not in monologues, where we are required to be in absolute submission and just nod and listen to what they preach, no questions are allowed.

    Facing these upheavals, we must not lose our sight ensuring press freedom is thriving in our land from now on by not allowing the people in power show any signs or hints of control or whatsoever, by not allowing another Ne Win or Than Shwe take control of the country. We will, no doubt become a good society and a successful country.

    In periods of transitions, bigger groups tend to bully smaller groups. That happened in Indonesia and Iraq. And that is exactly what is happening now in our country. So, my advice to our countrymen Muslim friends; stay low profile for a period of time, once our society become mature and secular institutions take root, we can debate openly, search for mutually beneficial solutions and agreements and enshrine them in our constitution so that our children and future generations can live together in peace, tranquility and prosperity forever, just like what people in many other developed countries are enjoying right now. But it will take time since we all were raised generationally defective under Ne Win & Than Shwe’s rule for over 50 years, almost every child and adult alike. Up until a couple of years ago, we all were taught raping women, killing innocents, robbing, cheating, bribing and corruption are part and parcel of life and forced to accept them as life’s normals.

  41. monk Wiratu & company mistaken by wrong perception killing Muslim through out the country will promote Buddhism in Burma.anti Muslim sermon every where in Burma,distributing free VCD,leaflet,social media,Facebook with full anti Muslim propaganda actually degrade Buddhist people.mass killing rohingya ethnic in arakan make arakan only for Buddhist,meikhtila massacre will remain as black scare with Buddhist Myanmar forever.Ne Win,thien sein,Wiratu,khin yount,khin yi,DR. aye maung these rogue thug have nothing to offer in the name of Buddhist Buddhism for union of Myanmar and its people but hate,destruction toward minority Muslim.making rohingya ethnic,Myanmar Muslim as foreigner because of their religion will make Myanmar people belittle,laughing stock in world stage.

    • I don’t regard Wirathu as a real follower of the Buddha. I abhor killing and injuring sentient beings, including illegal Bengalese in Rakhine. You cannot blame many people who were misguided by certain opportunist groups. Instead, we should demand justice and fair trials for all found committed atrocities and incitations.
      However, majority of Myanmar ethnic people will never accept the ethnic status of your beloved so called Rohingyas. No, they are just illegal intruders during the period of 1826 to 1945. Majority of them came to our country in that period. You better stay quiet if you really want to help them. Most of them are innocents and educated people of their own kinfolks manipulated them for their own benefit. You can blame any one, but don’t go further to insult Myanmar ethnicities and her religion.

  42. Irresponsible commentary. If he does not know exactly he should not write. He failed to mentioned root cause. Clearly, he does not know Burmese people. He is not a Buddhist for sure so that he dare to insult Buddhism and Buddhist. He is an extremist journalist, period.

  43. umm..have anyone actually realized the title of the article was ” ‘Buddhist’ Thugs” not literally meaning actual Buddhists, as opposed to “Buddhist Thugs” which would mean actual Buddhists? There is a difference people…read it properly first.

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