(Edit- tw: mention of rape/murder, no details)
Image: A monk shows an anti-Rohingya slogan on his hand.
As the anti-Rohingya campaign began to intensify in November 2011, Buddhism became the common ground for fostering an alliance between the Rakhine and Burmans. Discourses of anti-Rohingyas came to be constructed in term of protecting amyo barthar thartana — race/nation and religion. Religion refers exclusively to Buddhism.
In this situation, the already unclear definition of amyo (race/nation), and the elements that constitute this category, further blur the boundary between ethnic Rakhine, Burmans and Burmese citizenry. But it takes the general categorical form of ‘Buddhist and/or Burmese’ where ‘Burmese’ generally refers both to the country’s citizens as well as the majority ethnic Burmans. They also blur the boundaries between Rohingyas, Islam and Burmese Muslims. Ethnic Burmans, with or without the Rakhines’ mobilization, joined the campaign in the name of “safeguarding the nation.”
Therefore, differences and historical antagonism between ethnic Rakhines and Burmans have temporarily faded into a common “Buddhist Burmese” identity vis-à-vis the Rohingya. This merger is obvious as the Burmese government as well as senior opposition leaders from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party including Tin Oo, Nyan Win and Win Tin jumped on the bandwagon to speak out against the Rohingyas. Well-known celebrities, scholars and well-respected writers agreed.
(I’ve quoted the article before, but it really does highlight the reason for what’s happening, and I think understanding that is important to understanding the issue to its root and thus ending it.)