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[flagged] How Myanmar forces burned, looted and killed in a remote village (reuters.com)
107 points by xenophon on Feb 12, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

Excellent journalism, as always. I have been following the case of the two imprisoned journalists; I hope for their release.

I'm a Burmese Buddhist and strongly against both the arrest of reporters and killing unarmed people of any race/religion. But there is a hidden agenda behind such article.

It used the word "Buddhist" many many times, such as Buddhist village, Buddhist neighbors, Buddhist community. The conflict is much more complicated than religious and those Buddhists mentioned are in fact local "Arakan" people.

See following NY Times article, not to defend the killing or anything but to show the matter is much more complicated than it seems. The western medias have been entirely one-sided and barely listen to the other side of the story of local Arakan.


It's not more complicated here, in this story, where Reuters got confirmation from the Buddhist villagers who participated in the mass murder. So I'm not sure why it's important that we take into account the fact that hungry people displaced into refugee camps to escape a genocide might lie to get better rations --- which is the "other side of the story" your link reveals. The people Reuters is writing about in this story didn't make it that far, did they?

Unfortunately more important than the victims themselves in this story is the confirmation Reuters has now provided to so much of the rest of the narrative about Rakhine. Soldiers disguised themselves while committing atrocities. We know this now because Reuters found paramilitaries and police officers to confirm it. Orders were specifically given to "clear" Rohingya villages. Same. Buddhist neighbors torched the village itself. We know this because Buddhists have now admitted to it, to Reuters. The government fabricated a terrorist attack. We know because the victims of the supposed attack deny it occurred.

What happened in Inn Dinn was too systematized to have happened only in Inn Dinn. It happened, in general, throughout Rakhine, the way the Rohingya displaced said it did.

I think the point was that "Buddhist" is probably not the most apt word to describe the people who did these things. Buddhist may well be part of their cultural or personal identities, but to most Americans and Europeans at least, I suspect that labeling these people primarily as "Buddhist" is not actually useful, and in fact in the minds of an audience mostly unfamiliar with Buddhism, much less with the society where this happened in Myanmar, such a style tends to associate Buddhism with the activities described, when there's no link. Ultimately, using "Buddhists" and "Muslims" to distinguish the two groups is just sloppy reporting.

Again, this may be an important difference between members of the two groups, but like any conflict between groups, the differences in identity are what get played up and pointed out, when the differences are rarely the _reason_ for the conflict. They're a way to manipulate people into joining a side, or to cultivate political resentment, or to explain a complex situation in a simple way for a mass audience. But such reporting only buys into and amplifies the artificial distinctions that feed the conflict. The reporters do no favors to these people by oversimplifying the situation.

What other word would be more appropriate?

The GO suggested "Arakan people", but that would imply that Rohingya are not inhabitants of Arakan, which would be plainly wrong and politically biased. For the same reason "Arakanese villagers" is not possible. "Non-Rohingya" is unambiguous, but not suitable for many reasons.

Moreover, some Buddhist monks had public preaches violently against Muslims, so the religion played a role in this conflict.

Lastly, if you open any history book about the last world war, you'll read about "German" soldiers committing crimes against Jews. They did not commit these because they were Germans, nor did every German from these years bear responsibility for these, but the word is still appropriate.

> where Reuters got confirmation from the Buddhist villagers who participated in the mass murder

What do you propose we do? There is "mass murder" all over the world, and as the major faiths go, Christianity globally is much more zealously persecuted than Islam. Why is this particular flash point of religious strife being given such a disproportionate amount of attention by Reuters and other major western media outlets?

Because it's currently a genocide. Genocides should get media attention.

Are you suggesting that there is a bias in Western media against Christians and in favour of Muslims? That would be the first time I've heard such an accusation.

Note, that you are not beeing downvoted because of the issue you are trying to focus on (religious persecution is a topic worth its own consideration no matter what flavour of religion or lack thereof), but because you are trying to relativize genocide with whataboutism.

Excuse my ignorance - but does Buddhism have a concept of "holy war" like in Christianity, Judaism and Islam? If so - are they using religious justification for the killings or is the killing purely ethnical?

I don't want to spark arguments - so feel free to just post some reading material as a reply if you'd prefer to and I'll read it.

No, Buddhism as a religion doesn't, although you must understand that even in Christianity and Islam, the whole notion of "Holy War" is more a smokescreen to hide the much more prosaic underlying causes for war that have always been true throughout history: land, resources, human slave labour, control in general.

And it doesn't matter what justification is used for killing, really. One must look at the case from all angles, as the your parent said. However war and killing has never resolved long running conflicts in history. It merely subsides for a while before rearing its head again.

We really must put an end to quarrelling based on religion, race, ethnicity, and other puerile differences, or our species is never going to reach its potential on this planet.

I agree with everything you said, except for " it doesn't matter what justification is used for killing". I think that we should strive to understand the reasoning and aspects of human psychology/sociology that make some such "justifications" more effective than others, so we could do better at promoting peace.

Buddhism has a fairly explicit prohibition against killing or even working for companies in the business (i.e. gunsmith.)

This goes even as far as not executing serial killers.

So this is unprecedented, which is part of why many are so shocked.

Almost all religions have prohibitions against killing; almost all adherents ignore religious rules whenever they would require acting against their immediate self-interest.

Buddhists are no exception. Sad as it may be, such atrocities are not unprecedented and have accompanied Buddhism throughout its history; just as they have accompanied any other faith.

If you are interested, the book "Buddhist Warfare" collects a few interesting essays on the topic: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0195394844

Yes there are those who distort religion, but many religions have war ingrained in their identities, their foundations. Their gods, as described in the ancient texts, sanctioned and blessed war. The Abrahamic faiths are perfect examples of this.

Buddhism, from it's source, is different in that its first espouser categorically denounced violence against all living things, which makes any Buddhist warfare a shocking example of human ills. The Buddha even goes as far as to denounce just retribution.

> Buddhism has a fairly explicit prohibition against killing

It is easily worked around by dehumanization of your opponents. In buddhism such people might be considered icchantika for example which is basically someone who can never reach Nirvana and thus killing these "non-people" is akin to exterminating pests.

Obviously, there are many ways to dehumanize someone and sadly this is happening in many societies around the world right now.

There is NO concept of holy war in Buddhism. It's purely about love (Mettā).

Although a very (very) few monks are trying to implement such idea. When there is zero reference to support their idea in actual Buddha's teaching, they are seeking and using some ancient India/Sri Lanka historical arguments.

Unfortunately, with the situations with Rohingha conflict, they are gaining some support.

Religion is the fundamental fault line in this series of massacres, and the military has broad support from Buddhists throughout the country. In that context I don't see why 'Buddhist village, Buddhist community" is inappropriate, and certainly do not see evidence of a hidden agenda.

Person A: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

Person B: "But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts sugar on his porridge."

Person A: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."


Could you please highlight these complicatio? Media is overwhelmed with just killings but there is little information on what lead to this event. It was perhaps many years in making?

Nothing in that link talks about the “Arakan” people, it is about displaced Roghinya. The original article talked about a Rakhine(?) location.

Roger that... and my post even using the word Islam got flagged and I'm told what I wrote is against the rules here at HN.

Yes, what you wrote violates the guidelines, which ask us to post civilly and substantively. Information-free religious flamebait is pretty obviously not that and leads to accounts getting banned.


Pretty sure that if I posted statistics outlining my so-called "flamebait," then I would be equally in trouble. This is an article outlining how violent buddhists are (yes it is framed that way) - and my comment was a reply to someone framing Americans as ignorant for not realizing this supposed truth about Buddhists!

Related interview with a monk in Myanmar:


According to Wikipedia, Ashin Wirathu is "the spiritual leader of the anti-Muslim movement in Burma".

Calling this "interview with a monk" is like calling an interview with Donald Trump "interview with a politician". Correct, but perhaps not very helpful.

I understand informing myself of the world events, for sake of a better education and world citizen.

But what is there I can do from the Midwest US? There's not too damn much I can do. Post it on Facebook? It'll be drowned out the 80% other party political issues of the week. Give them money? I can't guarantee it'll get to the right place (or me deemed terrorist).

Feels bitterweet honestly. Horrible situation, and there's absolutely nothing I can do that has any positive effective change.

I totally get your frustration. One thing you could do is to write to your elected officials, and urge them to press for American and international sanctions agains Myanmar.

Too true, I could write to my congresscritters. However, here in Indiana, we're pretty heavily gerrymandered. It's republicans, and r-leaning democrats.

I've written to them before regarding tech issues (net neutrality) that had direct bearing on us. I received either nothing or a form letter. Maybe it did have an impact, but it sure didn't feel like it to me.


This is a seriously uncivil comment. Please don't post like this on Hacker News.



This is not the kind of comment we need on Hacker News. Please take a look at the guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


So people can discuss politics here but my comment is totally off the wall. Got it.


Please don't post bare links, particularly multiple. At least add a brief summary of how their content adds to the discussion.

I wonder why s/he is not using his/her main account to 'contribute' to this thread: user: occidentalist created: 29 minutes ago

Christians are heavily persecuted globally, particularly in the Middle East, and their plight goes largely ignored relative to the Rohingya. Compare the number of HN search results for "Rohingya" and "Coptic"/"Copt".

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