Friday, July 12, 2013

Bamiyan - Burma - Bodhgaya - Bombay

In the post titled {From Assam to Azad Maidan}, I had discussed the reasons behind the massive protests in Mumbai against alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. 

We know it was an unethical attempt to gain political mileage out of a dangerous situation which is a result of illegal immigration into Assam from Bangladesh. 

What we do not understand however, is the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which were also given as a justification for Mumbai protests. I had shared in the above mentioned post how many doctored images were shared online to inflame passions and rouse Muslims to come out on the streets and protest and this time I shall try to identify the root of this problem. 

With the opening of media in Myanmar and removal of Army from the streets, more religious factions have started to exert their opinion. Whether they are instigated by the militia or not remains to be seen but what is increasingly evident is the growing intolerance for Muslim minorities amongst certain Buddhist factions. I have visited the country many time but never seen aggression in the Buddhists so this comes as a surprise to me as well.

It appears that small provocations and arguments have been allowed to develop into full scale acts of arson and butchery with a devastating effect on the Human rights conditions. Perhaps the biggest incident till date was in March, when a Buddhist monk was attacked in the town of Meiktila, and later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. 

What followed was a brutal hacking of 20 boys dragged from a madrassa just outside the town center. This is not an isolated incident; there have been reports of mass killings and burnings of the minority population combined with a growing xenophobia amongst the Buddhist majority targeted against the Muslim community. But what has triggered this sudden persecution?

It is important for us to understand the causes of these events unfolding in our neighboring country since they may have far-reaching effects in our own. We have already seen the protests in Mumbai turn out-of control with vandals damaging National property.

The same illegal immigrants that cross over to Indian territory of Assam are involved in the Myanmar scenario as well. The Rohingyas are referred to as ‘Bengals’ by the Burmese which clearly refers to their land of origin. Burmese have never really acknowledged these migrants as their own inspite of they being in the country since colonial times.

At the helm of affairs is a seemingly calm 45 year old monk, Ashin Wirathu, who is based in a monastery at Mandalay. He is extremely vocal of his hatred for the community and accuses Muslim men of enticing Buddhist women into marriages and then imprisoning and turning them into sex slaves.

Ashin Wirathu - Two faces of the same coin

In an interview with BBC he shared his reasons in some candid yet frightening terms – ‘They, the Muslims are good at business. They control transport, construction and are taking over our political parties. If this goes on, we will end up like Afghanistan or Indonesia.’ The reason for this sentiment perhaps is the history of Islam and its spread throughout the Asian continent. 

While Muslim preachers repeatedly stress that Islam is NOT the religion of force, History begs to differ. Medieval chronicles are full of accounts of persecution of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs by invading foreigners who, irrespective of their nationalities, rode high on their own interpretation of what Islamic Jihad meant. 

Right from Mahmud Ghazni who attacked India multiple times to Nadir Shah who in his maiden attack massacred 10,000 Delhi residents, to the Mughals like Jahangir and Aurangzeb, intolerance and butchery have been hallmarks of the spread of Islam in the sub-continent.

It can be argued that any invading army would have done the same to its conquered territories; but what can not be easily justified is the zeal to wipe out the culture and traditions of the lands that were attacked. The breaking of temples and construction of mosques on their foundation has been well documented throughout the sub-continent and is not limited to India alone.

Western Historians such as Will Durant contend that Islam spread through violenceSir Jadunath Sarkar contends that several Muslim invaders were waging a systematic jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects." 

In particular the records kept by al-Utbi, Mahmud al-Ghazni's secretary, in the Tarikh-i-Yamini document several episodes of bloody military campaigns.

Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas, known in the West as Tamerlane or "Timur the lame" himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-i-Timuri. It gives details of how villages, towns and entire cities were rid of their Hindu male population through systematic mass slaughters and genocide and their women and children forcefully converted en masse to Islam from Hinduism. In his own words, "Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulama and the other Musalmans [sic], the whole city was sacked".

In recent times too, we have seen fanaticis in the form of Taliban who did not hesitate to destroy their world famous National treasure of Bamiyan Buddhas in the name of destroying idolatory. The image that comes across to a non-Muslim is that of an insensitive, intolerant religion spread by the sword that wipes out the history and culture of any nation that it spreads to.

Bamiyan Buddha before destruction
 Bamiyan Buddhas today..

With this background, let us see the situation that is developing in Myanmar. Ashin Wirathu urges Buddhists all over the country to boycott Muslim businesses and gives an allegory to explain his concern – ‘When you let a seed grow in a pagoda, it seems so small at first. But you know you must cut it before it grows and turns into a tree and destroys the building.’(!!) ‘You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog!’

But who is to decide on the definition of insanity?? That is the question that needs to be answered by ALL religious heads today. 

Granted that the history of the spread of Islam is littered with bloodshed and subjugation, is it correct to be the perpetrators of these same crimes in the name of revenge? This especially seems ironic from a religion that has Ahimsa or non-violence as one of its founding principles. 

Buddha preached love and compassion and the involvement of Buddhist religious order in propagating violence and intolerance jars the sensibilities. The studied silence of Aung San Suu Kyi regarding these killings is also worrisome as she is considered the choice prime ministerial candidate in a democratic Myanmar.

Whatever the provocation, an issue can never be resolved through mindless violence and diplomatic negotiations are any day more productive than the use of force. Such an action would only serve to give a justified reason for the growth of terrorism in coming generations!

Also, it may give rise to a backlash against Buddhists in other parts of the world, especially India and the recent attack on the Mahabodhi Temple in Gaya, Bihar could be a case in point! And let's not forget the terror threat for Mumbai issued by the Twitter account of Indian Mujahideen based in Pakistan which lasts till Saturday!

The Indian Mujahidin Twitter Account that was suspended

We hope the emerging democracy of Myanmar does not run into the brick wall of intolerance like Pakistan and Afghanistan and gives ALL its citizens equal rights. We have to rise above the follies of the past generations in order to have a better future for the generations ahead.

As Mahatma Gandhi has famously said – An eye for an eye, only makes the world blind!
Jai Hind!


Anonymous said...

Wat ever was done in burma was worng n if there blood sucker have guts then they should go der n show dere anger in burma. But they can't bcoz the burma's govt is nt dat weak like ours. We need a strong leadership to curb there morons. Last strong leader india saw was indira jee after her it was bcoz of her vision that khalistani militant were curbed n bangladesh got independence, we havnt see ny strng indivisual at cntr till now, i m nt a great supporter of bjp but i personaly feel that we have a strng leader emergng narendra jee . We must support him for maintaining peace in our country n also make our status on world level better. We need some1 to speek fire to the chaina n pak.

Sheikh Shoaib said...

I don't know why there has been such a huge delay of centuries for the revenge...

Vineet Aggarwal said...

Well it is quite obvious..its only now that Myanmar has become free of its Military dictatorship! For centuries they were under colonial rule and then military rule..

Aditya Gupta said...

Modi is only hope

Syed Toheed Ali said...

Pakistanis are also facing alot of problems. Daily bomb blast,target killings and many more we donot blame on u..plzz we are all humans cannot we live in peace..???

Vineet Aggarwal said...

Syed ToHeed ALi we have no enmity with Pakistanis but repeatedly all the threats on our nation have emerged from your country.. sadly, it is your govt. and military that does not want to let us live in peace.

Mirza Ishaq Baig said...

Hume Modi se Nafrat hai... Aur kyonki Hamein hamare desh se mohabbat hai hum usko PM Ki tarah nahi dekh sakte. On the other hand humein congress se mohabbat bhi nahi.... Lekin BJP ka portfolio aur agenda tho dekho, it is completely against the fabric of this country-Secularism. And the roots of BJP go to RSS who claims they will turn India to Hindu rashtr.

Aur Rahi baat Muslim Ki fatne ki... Har Muslim jaanta hai Ki usey ek din marna hai. Hum maut se darte nahi hai lekin ye desh Ki humein fikr hai

Vineet Aggarwal said...

@Mirza love ur sentiment.. we wish every citizen of the country puts country above religion!

Abhishek Shrivastava said...

There need of the hour is strng leadership at the cntr for making these morons remember their hasiyat. We need strng leader like shastri jee n valabh bhai. Which ever party promise it we should support them.

Rajdeep Rane said...

Indian Mujahidin, if you really have some guts then kill bloody corrupted Politian having full security, instead of killing Poor people who don't have any security. I think you are getting enough money from Politian that why you are not attacking on them. Shame Shame Shame......

Vineet Aggarwal said...

Well said Rajdeep!

Kamal Bhatia said...

Its because India seems to be an easy target...developing country, so less money needed for planning and logistics by the terrorists, less value for loss of human life (not just from the government even from the people), learned helplessness from the society, and lack of both financial and political prowess to retaliate...i am not sure, but this account might be a hoax

Vineet Aggarwal said...

Well it may very well be a hoax Kamal but tht doesnt change any of the things you said before that.. we are a soft state and an easy target for any and all! Shame on our Govt.

rohit kumar said...

I must say it's a very nice piece of writing.
what has happened in Myanmar is wrong but what they(IM) has done for their so called revenge attack can't be justified either. The people suffered in Bodh Gaya blasts are not those who r involved in the massacre in Myanmar. On a finishing note I will say "An eye for an eye will make whole world blind"

Anonymous said...

Nicely written and well researched Article, I must say.

We should learn from our past history, wherever Hindus got in minority in India, that part is either cut off from our Bharat varsha or constantly under threat of violence and unstable e.g. Afganistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, North East, Kerala.. When we will get educated from our past mistakes? How much more lessons we need? Due to foreign invasions since 1200 years our progress towards culture, technology, science. medicine, education etc got halted . We were busy in surviving our own identity rather then making progress. We are still dumb. GOvt is making all efforts to keep us dumb always.

ram said...

I consider Muslims are the progeny of followers of TRIPURASURA . King Vikramaditya was warned by Lord Siva on this account. Again the illuminati are the progeny of Danu the mother of Nagas.Have any comments to make on comments. If my comments are to be believed there is a need of intervention by Lord Vishnu in some form. Have you looked into the recent reports on entry of reptilians intermixing with humans. Comments requested in any form.

Shilpa Patel said...

Good article.It could so easily have been a justification for the discrimination the Rohingays face but you have rightly identified that peaceful negotiation is the key.They find themselves isolated in their own country a fact many Buddhists & Hindus face in the World.A solution needs to be found on the principles of Equality.Buddhists who fear the domination of forced Islam must teach their communities of their own worth & wonderful ethics of the Buddha.

Vaithiesvaran Palaniappan said...

The same question had run thru my mind always - why there is my animosity among them. thanks for the article

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Thanks all for sharing your views.. we should all look to find a peaceful solution to extremism of all kinds!