Tags / Sectarian Clashes
There is renewed tension between Buddhists and Muslims in parts of Burma. In March 2014 targeted violence, towards the Muslim minority in Myanmar, claimed the 45 lives and led to many homes being burnt to the ground.
In the Burmese streets, stickers sporting the numbers “969” are seen on taxis, shop windows, betel nut carts. These three ominous numbers are the symbol of a fast-rising Buddhist pride movement, presenting itself as a return to Buddhist roots and the teachings of the Lord.
But, in the new Myanmar, 969 is actually a vehicle of anti-Muslim hatred and Buddhist brainwashing.
“Muslims are fundamentally bad. Mohammed allows them to kill any creature. Islam is a religion of thieves, they do not want peace”, declares Ashin Wirathu the saffron-robed monk nicknamed the “Burmese Bin Laden.”
Far from the iconic images of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution”, popular Buddhist monks like Wirathu are travelling the country, preaching in front of thousands, urging Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses, to avoid marrying them, hiring them or to sell property to them. The 969 movement is appealing to a deep anti‐Muslim resentment implanted in Buddhist minds by fifty years of military propaganda. Burmese activist Maung Zarni recently confessed in a blog post: “Like millions of my fellow Burmese Buddhists, I grew up as a proud racist. For much of my life growing in the heartland of Burma, Mandalay, I mistook what I came to understand years later as racism to be the patriotism of Burmese Buddhists”.
By depicting a Myanmar on the verge of an Islamist invasion, the 969 movement is creating a framework for the wave of Islamophobic violence that has swept through Myanmar in the last months. In March, the bloodiest clashes to-date claimed the lives of forty-five people in the town of Meiktila. “At night, we sleep terribly. We are wondering when they will be coming. It is dark, it is scary. Our ears pay attention to every little noise”, said a Muslim resident of the city. Throughout the country the Muslim communities are living in the constant fear of new attacks.
Currently, 969 has seen little resistance from local or international governments. The movement is currently drafting a law proposal that would ban interfaith marriage, and four 969 monks have been working on a curriculum aimed at educating lay people and children about the ins and outs of protecting Buddhism from Islam. Set to take place in a Sunday school manner, the monks hope this new form of education will save their faith in this majority Buddhist nation but what implications will this have on cross-religious relationships? And will it instigate more religious violence?
Afraid of alienating the Buddhist vote for the 2015 elections, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is staying silent on this subject. Many see, behind 969 and the religious riots, the hand of hardliners from the army trying to destroy the fragile change Myanmar is going through as the country stumbles towards democracy.
June 12, 2014
Gop Jalil, Mosul, Iraq
Images of Peshmerga soldiers at a checkpoint after they gained controlled the village of Gop Jalil located on Mosul-Irbil road. The new checkpoint is located only 100m from ISIL frontlines.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced decades of political unrest. Violence has spiralled since the 2013, when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels alliance
ousted President Francois Bozize. Their abuses against the majority Christian population sparked a wave of revenge attacks that led to massacres across the country.
Violence in the north east of the country and in the capital Bangui has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. UNHCR estimates that over 2000 people have been killed since December 2013. More than 600 000 people have been internally displaced and some 100 000 have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Chad and Cameroon.
According to the UNHCR, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now hosting nearly 60,000 refugees from Central African Republic. Half of them are spread across four refugee camps, while the others are living with host families.
An estimated 9000 people live in the Mole refugee camp, located on the banks of the Oubagui river, 35 kilometres from the nearest big town, Zongo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nearly 10,000 refugees, both Muslims and Christians, have found refuge in the Boyabu Camp.
In Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli, Alawites loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime battle with Sunni's that support the Free Syrian opposition that live within blocks of each-other. The proxy conflict in Tripoli began over 30 years ago during the Lebanese civil war under the Syrian military occupation. Many of the Sunni fighters have crossed into Syria to fight alongside the Free Syrian Army against the regime and its allies. Tripoli, is a city that directly reflects the sectarian divisions in neighboring Syria. WIth the bombings in both Tripoli and Beirut's Dahiyeh the sectarian arms race in Tripoli continues for weaponry for what they fear is going to be the worst fighting seen in the region. Alawites populate a hillside called Jabal Mohsen and the Sunnis live in Bab al Tebbaneh that rests in the valley at the base of the hill. Events in Syria easily trigger an exchange of sniper fire and sporadic mortar shelling. All militias engaged in the conflict are heavily armed with RPGs, mortars, and heavy machine guns. In one night, over 1,000 mortars were exchanged in Tripoli. The Lebanese army has returned repeatedly to try and stabilize the area resulting in many casualties without making headway. The army has created a buffer zone on the infamous Syria Street, which has served as a front line between the battling sects since the conflict began. The Sunni fighters are always in preparation for a final fight against their pro Assad regime Alawite neighbors.
Amir Tadros Coptic Church in Al-Minya was burned on August 14. Egypt's Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, businesses and homes, carried out by angry mobs. Violence erupted after police violently dispersed Morsi supporters from two Cairo squares, Nahda and Rabaa.
Lebanese Sunnis in Tripoli are illegally arming themselves with the latest in modern weaponry from black markets in Tripoli for upcoming escalation in violence due to recent bombings and the spillover of the Syrian civil war. This fighters response to why carry and purchase weapons was "If we do not protect ourselves who will? "
These bullet riddled buildings belong to the Alawite section of Tripoli that rest on a hill overlooking the Sunni populated area, Bab Al Tebbaneh. These buildings surround the Alawite section and have been deserted and remain as bunkers for Alawite fighters and snipers to attack and defend their homes from the mortars and heavy gunfire from Bab Al Tebbaneh below.
Sunni fighters some who have been fighting in the area for over twenty years in Bab al Tabbaneh believe the time is coming for major conflict against the Alawite militias based in nearby Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli, Lebanon.
Sunni fighters in Bab al Tabbaneh part of a sniper group check weapons and equipment for possible night clashes against the Alawite militias based in Jabal Mohsen inside Tripoli.
A sniper from the Sunni neighborhood in Tripoli organizes his equipment and makeshift uniform for possible night clashes with Alawite militias, "I spent 16 years in a Syrian prison, I can not to afford trust anyone who allies with Bashar Assad," .
Oyoun Hsain is a small village located in the northeastern countryside of Homs with a population of less than 4000 people.
The area was not subjected to either armed or peaceful revolutionary movements, but it fell victim to shelling and other destructive measures.
A massacre was on the verge of occurring, but the Free Syrian Army intervened and stopped it by evacuating the villagers away.
However, many people were killed due to the continuous shelling by warplanes, artillery and tanks from the battalion next to the village. Mercenaries also broke into the village several times and killed people. In addition to that, more than 120 people were kidnapped. Until this moment, nobody knows anything about what happened to those kidnapped people.
The film shows the destruction in the village after the evacuation of its inhabitants.
The buildings’ ruins embed the village’s memory, the people’s properties and their children’s food.
The film authenticates the story of the village. The film is a call for humanity sent to the neighboring villages, where mercenaries live in and still support the regime. It reminds them of the past years when they lived peacefully together; when all the sects in Syria lived in peaceful coexistence.
The film aims to wake up the remnant of humanity and mercy in neighbors’ hearts; the friends yesterday and the executioners today.