After Myanmar Election, Few Signs of a Better Life for Muslims


Source: The New York Times

YANGON, Myanmar — A few months before the general elections here, the military-backed government struck hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the voter rolls. To be reinstated, they would have to prove their citizenship, but without using their government-issued ID cards, which the government had voided.

It was only the latest indignity heaped on the country’s several million Muslims, who face discrimination and have been subjected to murderous campaigns by radical Buddhists. Some Muslim members of Parliament were barred from running for re-election.

In the northwest, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group, have been denied citizenship rights and areconfined to bleak villages and camps.

As Myanmar’s democracy movement prepares to take power after a landslide election victory last week, Muslims here wonder whether their lives will improve under the new government, led by the National League for Democracy.

Not likely, according to comments from N.L.D. officials.

“We have other priorities,” said U Win Htein, a senior party leader. “Peace, the peaceful transition of power, economic development and constitutional reform.”

Referring to the Rohingya, he used language similar to that employed by the current military-backed government, saying they were largely illegal immigrants who must be“returned” to Bangladesh.

“We’ll deal with the matter based on law and order and human rights,” Mr. Win Htein said, “but we have to deal with the Bangladesh government because almost all of them came from there.”

The election on Nov. 8 has been widely celebrated as a breakthrough for the nascent democracy here. But it was a bittersweet moment for Myanmar’s increasingly embattled Muslims, many of whom had put their faith in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate, national democracy icon and leader of the National League for Democracy.

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