US to increase military ties with Burma despite escalating Buddhist extremism
“The United States will boost military ties with Burma later this month to encourage greater professionalism and more civilian oversight over the Southeast Asian country’s armed forces,” news portal The Irrawaddy said on Friday, citing the Myanmar Times. This engagement happens despite a steadily growing Buddhist extremism in the country and the state-supported persecution of ethnic Kachins and the Rohingya Muslims. US ambassador Derek Mitchell has said that through the military engagement, the US was not planning to sell arms but only to focus on humanitarian issues. US officials have also called for amendments to the military-written constitution of Burma, Irrawaddy reported. Critics however look at these steps as a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to bring Burma into the US ambit, while ignoring the structural problems in the country.
Earlier in July, in an article on the Huffington Post, Kachin writed Nang Seng, appealing to the US to not forget their Kachin “allies”, lamented “The Kachin people of Burma have watched in disbelief as at the same time as their villages are burned, their wives raped and their husbands shot while farming in the fields, the international community, including the USA, has hailed Thein Sein as a courageous reformer.”
Despite the much talked about ‘pro-reform’ policies of President Thein Sein, a former military commander, Buddhist extremism has been steadily on the rise in the country. Observers claim that such extremists are given state patronage.
Time Magazine’s July 1st edition had run a detailed cover story on the “Buddhist terror” unleashed by the 969 Movement led by the monk A. Wirathu against Muslims in Burma.
Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims were killed by Burmese state-sanctioned Buddhist violence last year in the Rakhine region.
In February 2013 UN Special Rapporteur to Burma Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana had criticized in the large military presence in Kachin areas and had also expressed concern over the plight of the Rohingya displaced persons.