WASHINGTON — Myanmar continues to face internal sectarian strife as Muslims battle Buddhists in addition to the repressive military junta. The Associated Press reports that this will worsen if Muslims feel further persecuted.
Myanmar, which was known as Burma under British occupation, is split between the minority Muslims and the majority Buddhists, where the Muslims feel targeted by the Myanmar government and their policies. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner, is trying to prevent further sectarian violence from breaking out.
U.S. President Barack Obama visited Myanmar last November to help stabilize relations between the U.S. and Myanmar to try to counter the influence of China.
The recent violence killed up to 44 people and displaced 12,000 more after a dispute at a Muslim-owned gold shop led to Buddhist riots and retaliation by Muslims. The Buddhist monk who was killed was lynched by a Muslim mob.
So far, Suu Kyi has remained silent even with her record on human rights because of the unpopularity of defending the minority Muslims. She and her party may fear the political repercussions of defending the Muslims within her country and could reverse any gains that they made since her election.