This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Mess in Myanmar

Here on Oscar night it seems fitting to think about which country in the world might win the Oscar for being most messed up in a drama that includes demography. A story about Myanmar (Burma) in today's New York Times provides the inspiration for nominating Burma for this honor. A new round of killings aimed at the Muslim minority in that predominantly Buddhist country has added to the refugee and internally displaced person crisis faced by the country and, as it turns out, by the international community.
The killings are a test for Myanmar’s government, which has done little to rein in radical Buddhists, even as it pursues broad economic and political reforms of policies created by its former military leaders. The government has backed severe restrictions imposed by local authorities on Muslims’ freedom of movement and deprivation of basic services in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya live. 
On Friday, the crackdown on the ethnic minority continued, when the government ordered Doctors Without Borders, the Rohingya’s main health care provider, to stop providing its services to them. One of the group’s offenses, according to a government official, was the hiring of too many Rohingya.
Really?? You are giving the boot to Doctors Without Borders? This is bad enough on its own, but the Muslims in the southwest near the border of Bangladesh do not represent the only group of people discriminated against in Burma--including denial of citizenship to these people. Over the past three years, one of the largest groups of refugees entering the U.S. has been from Burma (the U.S. government does not use Myanmar). But they are refugees largely from the southeastern part of Burma, next to Thailand. These are especially members of the Karen ethnic group, many of whose ancestors converted to Christianity during British rule (when Burma was part of the British Indian Empire). They have been dispossessed because of their antagonism to the previous military regime in Burma, and probably because of their religion, as well.

This country of 53 million people receives my vote for having one of the most egregiously intolerant governments in the world, seeking to rid itself of undesirable minorities by putting them in the position of flee or die.

1 comment:

  1. so ... radical Buddhists are now killing Muslims?????
    radical Buddhists. really?

    you know I was searching for that one KEY INDICATOR that would completely confirm that the world has gone over the edge. Congratulations Professor - I believe you have found it!!!

    Pete, Redondo Beach