Category : Myanmar/Burma

(Economist) 2 documentaries probe Myanmar’s religious strife between the Rohingya and Buddhists

Though these films neatly complement each other, they are being received rather differently. “The Venerable W.” was shown with pomp at Cannes, while “Sittwe” was banned from the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon. This year’s edition was dedicated to Miss Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, with censors deeming the movie “religiously and culturally inappropriate”. Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, brands the decision as “ludicrous”. The ban, he explains, reveals the government’s authorities persistent bias against the Rohingya and the reluctance to present them as victims in any capacity. “The Rohingya have been put in a separate, untouchable category by the government, and any real discussion of their situation gets tarred with the same brush.”

“Sittwe” found an audience in Thailand instead. For Lia Sciortino Sumaryono, the director of Southeast Asia Junction, a non-profit organisation which hosted the screenings in Bangkok, the issue is relevant to the whole region. “Extremists movements are increasingly regionalised,” she says, pointing at the several contacts between extremist Buddhist networks in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and those of Islamist groups in the Philippines and Malaysia.

“The Venerable W.” and “Sittwe” offer some insight into a social and religious quagmire. Were the country open to talking meaningfully about relations between Buddhists and Muslims, the films could form part of the discussion. As it is not, acts of violence are likely to continue.

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Posted in Buddhism, History, Movies & Television, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(R+E Report) The near-death experience in Jail of Burma's Anglican Archbishop Stephen Than

Burma is a deeply religious nation””predominantly Buddhist but with big religious and ethnic minorities.

Stephen Than, the Anglican Archbishop is from the minority Karen people. During his lifetime he has faced ethnic discrimination and a crisis of faith. Archbishop Than is the subject of a new biography, Dancing With Angels, by Melbourne Anglican priest Alan Nichols.

Listen to it all (just over 13 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) A Mother’s Anguished Choice to Flee Myanmar and Leave One Child Behind

Carrying one child in her arm, a second on her back and holding the hand of a third, Hasinah Izhar waded waist-deep through a mangrove swamp into the Bay of Bengal, toward a fishing boat bobbing in the dusk.

“Troops are coming, troops are coming,” the smuggler said. “Get on the boat quickly.”

If she was going to change her mind, she would have to do it now.

Ms. Izhar, 33, had reached the muddy shore after sneaking down the dirt paths and around the fish ponds of western Myanmar, where she and about one million other members of the Rohingya minority are stateless, shunned and persecuted for their Muslim faith.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Marriage & Family, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Women

Myanmar Policy’s Message to Muslims: Get Out

The Myanmar government has given the estimated one million Rohingya people in this coastal region of the country a dispiriting choice: Prove your family has lived here for more than 60 years and qualify for second-class citizenship, or be placed in camps and face deportation.

The policy, accompanied by a wave of decrees and legislation, has made life for the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority, ever more desperate, spurring the biggest flow of Rohingya refugees since a major exodus two years ago.

In the last three weeks alone, 14,500 Rohingya have sailed from the beaches of Rakhine State to Thailand, with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia, according to the Arakan Project, a group that monitors Rohingya refugees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Politics in General

Adoniram Judson for his (Prvsnl) Feast Day–The Man Who Gave the Bible to the Burmese

In 1803, in a house overlooking Plymouth harbor, a 14-year-old boy lay dangerously ill. Before this time, he’d never given much time to serious thought about the course his life would take. But during his year-long convalescence, he began to reflect on the possibility of future fame. Would he be a statesman, an orator, or a poet? An eminent minister of a large, wealthy church? Where did true greatness lie? He was shocked out of his reverie””and very nearly out of his bed””by a mysterious voice that uttered the words “Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be the glory.”

Adoniram Judson would remember that startling revelation for the rest of his life. With his strong academic training, keen intellect, and linguistic abilities, he might well have become a prominent theologian, scholar, or politician in 19th-century America. But his profound desire to do the will of God led him down a very different path.

“The motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be ‘Devoted for Life.'”
Adoniram Judson

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Christology, Church History, Missions, Myanmar/Burma, Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Adoniram Judson

Eternal God, we offer thanks for the ministry of Adoniram Judson, who out of love for thee and thy people translated the Scriptures into Burmese. Move us, inspired by his example, to support the presentation of thy Good News in every language, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, Myanmar/Burma, Spirituality/Prayer

(BBC Magazine) Alan Strathern–Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

This is happening in two countries separated by well over 1,000 miles of Indian Ocean – Burma and Sri Lanka. It is puzzling because neither country is facing an Islamist militant threat. Muslims in both places are a generally peaceable and small minority.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(AP) In Myanmar, living in fear amid Religious Violence

They have seen how trouble starts from the smallest things. They have seen the police powerless before mobs fired with religious zeal and armed with bricks and swords. They have seen on TV and in newspapers the burning homes of people just like them light up the night. And so they have erected rusted barbed-wire barricades and volunteered to sit on street corners, 10 men at time, watching through the night.

Fear courses through the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, especially among its Muslim minority. They have watched as the sectarian violence threatening to destabilize the country’s fragile democracy creeps closer to home. With little faith in the government’s ability to protect them and a growing movement of Buddhist extremism, some feel they have little choice but to try to defend themselves.

Residents in some neighborhoods have started their own patrols.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

Diocese of Melbourne building on links with Myanmar Church

Archbishop Philip Freier, who led a team to Myanmar in February, is now promoting efforts ”“ incorporating organisations and individuals beyond the diocese – to follow up the two week visit to the country which is only now emerging from 60 years of isolation under a military dictatorship.

In April, he hosted at Bishopscourt a diverse group of 35 people, including several Burmese clergy and other leaders, to discuss priorities in building on the links now established ”“ which has already triggered further networking to plan action.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Myanmar/Burma

Microfinance Brings Hope to Myanmar’s Farmers

After decades of grinding poverty under successive military dictatorships, Myanmar’s rice farmers have a chance at a better future through rural reforms ushered in by the country’s quasi-civilian government. Microfinance is at the root of it.

The guarantees of small, low-interest loans to this least developed country’s debt-ridden farmers turn a page in the ledger of rural credit, which had virtually dried up within the small agriculture banking system during the 50 years of military rule, forcing farmers to borrow from money lenders at usurious interest rates.

Small loans ranging from 60 to 600 dollars are being offered to the agriculture sector by organisations like the Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), a Western donor-backed microfinance initiative facilitated by the introduction last November of a microfinance law in Myanmar (also known as Burma).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Myanmar/Burma, Personal Finance, Rural/Town Life

(Independent) Burma's monks call for Muslim community to be shunned

Monks who played a vital role in Burma’s recent struggle for democracy have been accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country by calling on people to shun a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse.

In a move that has shocked many observers, some monks’ organisations have issued pamphlets telling people not to associate with the Rohingya community, and have blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching them. One leaflet described the Rohingya as “cruel by nature” and claimed it had “plans to exterminate” other ethnic groups.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Church warns of change happening too fast in Myanmar

The Archbishop of Myanmar has warned that political change is happening so fast that his country could be swamped by consumerism and competition.

During a visit to the USPG offices in London, Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo said he welcomed change in his country ”“ but also urged caution.

He said: ”˜We want change, but it’s happening too fast. Many people are coming into the country ”“ business people in search of profits, tourists, and many others ”“ and restrictions are opening up. This will change the lifestyle of the Burmese people.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Myanmar/Burma

(Christianity Today) Flickers of Hope for Some of the World's Longest Running Persecuted

Recent gestures by Burma’s political leadership offer a glimpse of optimism for future reform. Still, many Burmese remain cautious as fighting continues in ethnic minority regions where most of the country’s Christians are located.

The nation’s military-backed leadership reached a cease-fire agreement in January with a major ethnic Karen army and freed hundreds of political prisoners. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last year from 15 years of house arrest, plans to run in a parliamentary election in April.

“You can see evidences of people being joyful,” said Vision Beyond Borders founder Patrick Klein, who has seen photos of Suu Kyi on billboards and t-shirts and businesses opening in Burma. “Because so much of the world is watching Burma, it’s going to be a lot harder to have a sham election.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Myanmar/Burma, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

With U.S. tech, Internet censorship continues in Syria, Burma

An investigation into commercial online filtering technology reveals the prevalence of devices from Blue Coat, an American firm, being used to censor the Web in Syria and Burma. Ron Deibert of Toronto’s Citizen Lab discusses the report’s importance.

If you live in Burma or Syria, good luck trying to access pro-democracy websites, overseas news networks, even dating websites. Thanks to devices made by Blue Coat Systems, portions of the Net are inaccessible to residents in these countries, and a recent report reveals how a number of these filtering devices have been found in the regions, despite the manufacturer claiming they never sell their products to embargoed countries.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Myanmar/Burma, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Syria

BBC–Suu Kyi 'ready for talks' to resolve Burma's Problems

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has told the BBC she is ready for talks with all groups to achieve national reconciliation.

A day after her release from house arrest, she said it was time to “sort out our differences across the table”.

Ms Suu Kyi also said she intended to listen to what the Burmese people and her international supporters wanted as she planned her next steps.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention.

World leaders and human rights groups have welcomed her release.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Politics in General