FaithWorld

Apartheid tactics separate Myanmar’s minority Muslims from majority Buddhists

May 16, 2013

(Rohingya Muslims look through the gates of a house in a village where many displaced by violence found shelter, near Sittwe April 27, 2013.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj )

A 16-year-old Muslim boy lay dying on a thin metal table. Bitten by a rabid dog a month ago, he convulsed and drooled as his parents wedged a stick between his teeth to stop him from biting off his tongue.

Swift treatment might have saved Waadulae. But there are no doctors, painkillers or vaccines in this primitive hospital near Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State in western Myanmar. It is a lonely medical outpost that serves about 85,300 displaced people, almost all of them Muslims who lost their homes in fighting with Buddhist mobs last year.

“All we can give him is sedatives,” said Maung Maung Hla, a former health ministry official who, despite lacking a medical degree, treats about 150 patients a day. The two doctors who once worked there haven’t been seen in a month. Medical supplies stopped when they left, said Maung Maung Hla, a Muslim.

These trash-strewn camps represent the dark side of Myanmar’s celebrated transition to democracy: apartheid-like policies segregating minority Muslims from the Buddhist majority. As communal violence spreads, nowhere are these practices more brutally enforced than around Sittwe.

In an echo of what happened in the Balkans after the fall of communist Yugoslavia, the loosening of authoritarian control in Myanmar is giving freer rein to ethnic hatred.

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