Sure, Time Magazine‘s cover isn’t always the same in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world, especially when it comes to news about Asia (which we don’t follow very closely here). It’s a shame for a number of reasons, not the least of which being what I heard recently from Rohingya Muslims in diaspora: that Buddhist Americans might be able to help the current situation in Burma. We need this news on our magazine covers and in our faces here in the U.S.
Of course, we also need to make sure this coverage is telling the full story. Dissident “rock star” Dr. Maung Zarni, whom I saw speak recently at the Myanmar Muslims Genocide Awareness Convention, has already taken the Time piece, as well as a recent New York Times piece, to task for only telling “half the story” in a new blog post. He writes:
…the military-State IS 100% behind 1) the Rohingya ethnocide and genocide in Western Burma and 2) the rise of Wirathu, an ex-criminal convict from 2003-2012, and anti-Muslim ideological campaign against all Muslims in the whole of Burma.
Myanmar military today is completely “cleansed” of Muslims in any significant positions. The Muslim-free Armed Forces, generally speaking, is the direct outcome of the generals’ aggressive and decades’ long pursuit of an unwritten policy of cleansing the most important national institution of ‘Muslim infidels’, not unlike what Hitler did to the German state institutions, including German universities.
Anti-Muslim publications have been approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Department of Religious Affairs over the past 15 years, at least.
According to Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, the Presidential Adviser, assistant professor of Asian Studies at the City University of Hong Kong, and the secretary of the Rakhine Violence Presidential Inquiry Commission, there have also been recorded and reported incidents where the military intelligence spread deliberate rumors and false information (for instance, the story of a Muslim rape of a Buddhist maid in Mandalay in 2007 which he used as evidence of the military’s attempts to incite violence against the Muslims in the upcountry city) designed to stoke and create anti-Muslim riots in various parts of Myanmar as a strategic tool for giving the public an outlet to vent – at the expense of vulnerable and utterly un-armed Muslim minorities and away from its leadership and policy failures…
There is a double-impunity in play: the military-state in Myanmar has for all intents and purposes granted the ‘Buddhist terrorists’ national impunity while the leadership of that state itself is enjoying international impunity, thanks to the emerging strategic and commercial equations of the West vis-a-vis China.
To the dismay of those of us informed Burmese with deep concerns for human security – that is, security of affected individuals and communities, TIME’s cover story “The Face of Terror”, simply repeats the self-interested logic of the West and the rest. Unfortunately, when the security of a global capitalist order and a regime that has long been the main source of terror towards the Burmese citizenry, irrespective of faith, location and ethnicity, is fast becoming one, international community, so-called, places the security of institutional/corporate/strategic interests categorically above the security of human persons and their communities.
“It’s Buddhism, stupid!” is TIME’s central and misleading message once again enables Naypyidaw and its generals and ex-generals to externalize their central role and responsibility in the Muslim pogroms to the ‘racist’ Buddhist monks and ultra-nationalist Burmese public. Repeating this false narrative, President Thein Sein has absolved himself and his administration of any wrong doing or responsibilty this already in his August 2012 on the initial wave of pogroms against the Rohigya.
You can read the rest of Dr. Zarni’s post here.