Outbreak of religious violence and hate speech in Burma must be stopped
United to End Genocide
3 July 2014
United to End Genocide today called on President Obama and other government leaders of the world to denounce the outbreak of hate speech and violence in Mandalay Burma and make it clear that the government of Burma will be held fully accountable for how it responds.
“We are deeply disturbed by the outbreak of inter-religious violence being fueled by rumor and hate-speech in Mandalay Burma and reports that police are failing to protect Muslims who are being targeted by Buddhist mobs”, said Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide.
“This is how mass atrocities happen and how genocide is fueled. It is critical that officials in Burma understand that the world is watching closely. The government has a fundamental responsibility to protect those who are under attack and threatened with violence. Those who incite and commit this violence must know that they will be held fully accountable.“
United to End Genocide cited reports that radical nationalist Buddhist leader Ashin Wirathu – who is based in Mandalay – not only spread a rumor of the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim shopkeeper, but, is now using his Facebook page to spread the claim that “Muslims ‘armed to teeth with swords and spears’ were preparing a jihad against local Buddhists.” Just as radio was used in Rwanda to incite hatred and killing, perpetrators of hate are using Facebook.
The ensuing violence left several people injured and two men killed, one Buddhist and one Muslim.
“Today I learned that U Soe Min, a Muslim man who I had the privilege to meet in Mandalay last year, was killed by a Buddhist mob as he travelled by bicycle to his Mosque. U Soe Min was among a group of Muslim leaders I met with who were seeking to promote peace and harmony in Burma. He warned of the growing storm clouds of hatred and intolerance in Mandalay and Burma.”
United to End Genocide mourns the death of U Soe Min and the tragic silencing of a voice of peace and harmony. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends and those of all the victims of this recent violence.
The lack of accountability and failure to protect Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Burma over the last several years has allowed ethnic tensions to continue to smolder. Burmese President Thein Sein must unequivocally denounce the spreading of dangerous speech and rumors by leaders like Wirathu and must hold to account both those who perpetrate the violence and government officials and police officers who fail to protect citizens regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
Read full statement here.