Monday, 7 July 2008

The Menacing Monks Of Myanmar

The Strategy Page

July 5, 2008: There continue to be several religious murders a week in the south. The violence has been declining, but slowly. Since early 2004, over 3,300 have died, and most of the Buddhists living in the Moslem south have left the area. This is what the Islamic radicals want, but the government is determined to defeat this latest insurrection to threaten more than a century of Buddhist Thai rule in the Moslem Malay south.

The ethnic and religious differences have been a constant source of tension, and the current popularity of al Qaeda and drug smugglers has led to an increase in ethnic violence. But several years of work by the police and army intelligence in the south have revealed who the primary terrorists are, and led to increasingly successful search operations in the bush. The capture of terrorist camps, plus the occasional firefights with camp occupants, hurt terrorist recruiting, morale, and capabilities.

The Thais are determined to repeat past campaigns against rebellious Moslems and grind them down and stamp out the violence. That's what appears to be happening, although this time the government is also offering more economic assistance in the south. Unlike the rest of Thailand, which has undergone enormous economic growth in the past few decades, the south has lagged behind. This is largely due to less education and more hostility to outsiders. Attempts to improve education, and the importation of many Buddhist teachers (as there were no Moslem ones available), is one justification for the current Islamic terror campaign. The economic programs are turning some of the southerners away from the gangsters and Islamic terrorists who are behind most of the current unrest.

June 28, 2008: Train service has resumed in the south, less than a week after Islamic terrorists shot up a passenger train.

June 26, 2008: Over the last three years, about 20 percent of the 150,000 Burmese refugees living in camps along the Burmese border, have been resettled in Western countries (most in the United States). Meanwhile, the military dictatorship in Burma (Myanmar) survived the damage (both domestic and diplomatic) from the recent typhoon.

However, the lack of government support for the typhoon victims allowed the Buddhist monks to further enhance their reputation. Many of the half million monks for involved in disaster relief, and the government did not use force to stop them. The monks are the only organized force in the nation that have opposed the dictatorship and survived. That's mainly because most of the 400,000 troops in the armed forces are Buddhist, and reluctant to attack the monks.

No comments: