Agen Sabung Ayam
YANGON, Myanmar — A handful of months ahead of the general election right here, the military-backed government struck hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the voter rolls. To be reinstated, they would have to prove their citizenship, but with out utilizing their government-issued ID cards, which the government had voided.
It was only the latest indignity heaped on the country’s numerous million Muslims, who face discrimination and have been subjected to murderous campaigns by radical Buddhists. Some Muslim members of Parliament have been barred from operating for re-election.
In the northwest, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group, have been denied citizenship rights and are confined to bleak villages and camps.
As Myanmar’s democracy movement prepares to take power right after a landslide election victory last week, Muslims right here wonder whether their lives will increase beneath the new government, led by the National League for Democracy.
Not likely, according to comments from N.L.D. officials.
“We have other priorities,” said U Win Htein, a senior celebration leader. “Peace, the peaceful transition of energy, economic development and constitutional reform.”
Referring to the Rohingya, he used language comparable to that employed by the present, military-backed government, saying that they were largely illegal immigrants who must be “returned” to Bangladesh.
“We’ll deal with the matter based on law and order and human rights,” Mr. Win Htein mentioned, “but we have to deal with the Bangladesh government simply because practically all of them came from there.”
The election on Nov. 8 has been extensively celebrated as a breakthrough for the nascent democracy here. But it was a bittersweet moment for Myanmar’s increasingly embattled Muslims, a lot of of whom had place their faith in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate, national democracy icon and leader of the National League for Democracy.
Authorities mentioned they anticipated no drastic modifications in government policies toward Muslims, but they held out hope that at least factors would not grow to be worse. Although the N.L.D. leaders created no campaign promises to end discrimination against Muslims, analysts said, they did not go out of their way to attack them.
“I feel a lot of Muslims believed confident, the N.L.D. and Suu Kyi haven’t vocally supported us, but they’re a lot far better than the other guys,” mentioned David Scott Mathieson, a Myanmar specialist at Human Rights Watch. “That’s an added governance burden on Suu Kyi that she has to address — we may not help full Muslim participation, but we will make sure that you will be treated as citizens, and there will be no further discrimination throughout her government’s term. She’s got an overwhelming mandate to do that.”
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized abroad for not speaking up for the Rohingya, whose life is grim enough that thousands fled on smugglers’ ships in the spring, setting off a regionwide crisis right after other countries initially turned the boats back, leaving the migrants to starve at sea. But her reticence is de rigueur in a country exactly where anti-Muslim hatred runs high and any hint of conciliation is noticed as political suicide.
Neither her party nor the military-aligned governing celebration fielded any Muslim candidates, viewing them as a liability. When the new Parliament is seated in late January, the body will have no Muslim members for the very first time because the country’s independence in 1948.
One Muslim candidate who, soon after appealing twice to the election commission, was permitted to run for Parliament, quit the N.L.D., which he had joined at its founding in 1988.
The candidate, U Yan Naing, mentioned party members had organized a religiously motivated protest against him in the town of Myaung Mya, where he oversaw the party’s election committee. He stated he raised his issues in many letters to Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi but received no response.
“It was discrimination,” he mentioned. “This so-referred to as democratic party. I was very disappointed.”
Instead, he ran on the ticket of a little, predominantly Muslim celebration, with a simple aim: providing Muslims a voice in Parliament.
He was trounced by the N.L.D. In a district that was 40 % Muslim, Mr. Yan Naing took just 1 % of the vote. The N.L.D. candidate received 80 %.
“Even the Muslims didn’t vote for us,” he said. “Daw Suu is quite influential more than the Muslims, too.”
Indeed, Muslims voted overwhelmingly for the N.L.D., according to analysts and interviews with Muslim voters.
“They didn’t say something to win our help,” stated Khin Mar Cho, 48, as she coated melon slices in batter to fry them at her roadside stall in a neighborhood with a massive Muslim population. “But most of us voted for the N.L.D. anyway. We hope for a modify.”
Mr. Win Htein, the N.L.D. leader, acknowledged that his celebration chose not to have any Muslim candidates run, due to the fact that would have offered ammunition to the radical Buddhists, considered a powerful political force here. The Patriotic Association of Myanmar, a radical anti-Muslim group run by Buddhist monks, had currently accused Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi of being too soft on Muslims.
“They mentioned that if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wins, then she would allow our country to be overrun with the Muslims,” Mr. Win Htein said. But he insisted that his party treated all religions equally.
If there was a vibrant spot in this election for Myanmar’s Muslims, it might have been the failure of the radical Buddhist movement to sway the election in favor of the governing party, which its leaders had backed.
Authorities, even so, mentioned, the movement was unlikely to disappear as a political force. “Sadly I consider it might rear its head once again,” Mr. Mathieson of Human Rights Watch said.
One particular of its primary leaders, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk, vowed that the movement would continue and that it would closely watch the new government for efforts to roll back laws that his group had championed, including those passed this year to enforce monogamy and restrict religious conversion, interfaith marriage and the frequency of childbirth. These laws, which do not specifically mention Muslims, are understood to have been aimed at them.
“We will shield the race and religion laws as best we can,” Ashin Wirathu said. “We will by no means let anyone destroy them.”
Nevertheless, in the context of Myanmar’s long struggle toward democracy, many Muslims said they believed that a government led by a celebration that promised a return to the rule of law was at least a move in the right path.
“There has been so much racial and religious incitement,” stated U Aung Kyaw Tun, a Muslim who is a graphic designer in Yangon and who voted for the N.L.D. “If there is rule of law, it will decrease the tension.”
Like other Muslims who voted for the party, he utilized the word “hope” to explain why. No matter whether that expectation is justified remains to be noticed.
“The truth that members of the Muslim population are nevertheless holding out hope in the N.L.D., regardless of the N.L.D.’s silence and inaction to date — especially on the abuses against Rohingya — is in some way indicative of the desperation,” stated Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, a human rights group that focuses on Myanmar. “But it is a contagious hope, and it is a hope that we share.”
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