CAIRO - Adding to the decades-long suffering of the Muslim minority, Burmese monks are seen fueling hatred against Rohingya Muslims, blocking international aid to the persecuted community, The Independent reported.
"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."
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Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled their homes last month after ethnic tensions rocked the western state of Rakhine after the killing of ten Muslims in an attack by Buddhist vigilantes on their bus.
The attack came following the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman, for which Buddhists blame Muslims.
Observers have said that Burmese monks were seen blocking international aid to Muslim refugees, who fled their homes in the recent bout of violence.
Monasteries in Maugdaw and Sittwe have refused to allow international aid to Rohingya Muslims in shelter camps.
They described the aid to Muslim refugees as biased in favor of Rohingyas.
Discrimination against Rohingya Muslims has forced thousands of them to flee Burma into neighboring Bangladesh.
Amnesty International said Friday that Rohingya Muslims are increasingly being hit with targeted attacks that have included killings, rape and physical abuse.
Monks' groups have issued pamphlets warning Burmese against associating with Rohingya Muslims.
One leaflet issued by monks described the Rohingya as cruel by nature.
It argued that Rohingya Muslims had plans to exterminate other ethnic groups in Burma.
Statements were also issued by two monk groups, The Young Monks' Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks' Association, calling on Burmese not to associate with Rohingya.
Monks' leader Ashin Htawara has recently called on the government to send Rohingya "back to their native land".
"The Rohingya are not a Burmese ethnic group, he said an event in London hosted by the anti-Rohingya Burma Democratic Concern.
The root cause of the violenceâ¦ comes from across the border."
The monks' position is shocking to many as they have often played a role in helping vulnerable people.
"We were shocked to have [Ashin Htawara] propose to us that there should be what amounts to concentration camps for the Rohingya," said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Myanmar's ethnic-Bengali Muslims, generally known as the Rohingyas, are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.
They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.
Myanmar's government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term "Rohingya", referring to them as "Bengalis".Earlier this month, Burmese President Thein Sein said that Rohingyas should be settled in a third country.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net