[Temple ICAS Lecture] Why is Myanmar Persecuting Rohingyas?: A "Buddhist" Nationalist Perspective

Robert  Dujarric's picture
October 23, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Ethnic History / Studies, Human Rights, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Race Studies, South Asian History / Studies

Date:Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Time:7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
Venue:Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall, 1F Parliament
(access: http://www.tuj.ac.jp/maps/tokyo.html)
Speaker: Maung Zarni, UK-exiled Burmese Buddhist human rights campaigner
Moderator:Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University, Japan Campus
Admission:Free. Open to the public.

* Advanced registration is encouraged, but not required.

In a recent comment, Antonio Guetteres, UN Secretary General and former head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), repeated a typical characterization, "one of the most persecuted peoples" in the world. Upon a closer look, Rohingyas are Myanmar's Jews singled out by the most powerful national institution, the Armed Forces, for no other reason than they exist as Muslims in the wrong place at the wrong time. Out of the total of 50 million in a predominantly Buddhist society, Rohingyas make up about 1.33 million in 2012, according to Myanmar's official (conservative) figures. Their pre-colonial historical presence in Arakan or today's Rakhine is irrefutable while the group enjoyed official recognition as an ethnic nationality or minority of the Union of Burma, with full and equal citizenship rights, during the post-independence governments of PM U Nu and the early military government of General Ne Win (1962-74). But since the late 1970's, the military-controlled state has instituted policies designed to destroy this national minority from its physical, biological, and communal foundations.  This talk will offer an insider's perspective on this radical reversal of national policies towards Rohingyas in terms of its ideological roots, rationales, institutional practices and "public opinion" while contextualizing the persecution in a broader geopolitical and ideological milieu in Asia and the West.

Maung Zarni or Zarni is a UK-exiled Burmese Buddhist human rights campaigner with 30-years of experience in international activism. He is the co-author, with Natalie Brinham, "The Slow Burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya", (University of Washington School of Law's Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal (Spring 2014), and, with the same co-author, "Reworking the Colonial-Era Indian Peril: Myanmar's State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims" (Brown Journal of World Affairs, Fall/Winter/2017-18). He holds a PhD in the sociology of curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an MA from the University of California. He has taught and/researched in universities in USA, UK, and Southeast Asia. He helped found the Free Rohingya Coalition, a network of leading Rohingya activists in diaspora and refugee camps in Bangladesh working with international human rights scholars and activists. He blogs at MaungZarni.net

Contact Info: 
Robert Dujarric
Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies
Temple Universit Japan Campus
Contact Email: