Monks in Myanmar are reportedly trying to fuel ethnic tensions by telling people to shun and block humanitarian aid to the Rohingya community, a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse, reports independent.co.uk.
Certain monk organisations have been reportedly issuing pamphlets describing the Rohingya as “cruel by nature” and claiming that the community had plans to exterminate other ethnic groups.
“In recent days, monks have emerged in a leading role to enforce denial of humanitarian assistance to Muslims, in support of policy statements by politicians,” said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan project, a regional NGO.
“A member of a humanitarian agency in Sittwe told me that some monks were posted near Muslim displacement camps, checking on and turning away people they suspected would visit for assistance.”
The Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks’ Association have both released statements urging locals not to associate with the group, reports the independent.co.uk.
The Rohingya have been displaced and are currently living in camps as political leaders are working on expelling them from the country.
Earlier this month, Burma’s president Thein Sein attempted to hand over the group to the UN refugee agency.
Bangladesh, already home to a Rohingya refugee population estimated at 300,000, had earlier turned away more migrants and has sealed its 200-kilometre border with Myanmar.
The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for centuries, but were stripped of citizenship in 1982 by military ruler Ne Win.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have also threatened to attack Myanmar to avenge crimes against the Muslim Rohingya, unless Pakistan halts all relations with the government and shuts its embassy in Islamabad.