Burma’s Apartheid

Burma’s Apartheid

October 13, 2013 · by · in Burma, Photo Story, Photography. ·
* Note : The photo essay below, a part of my ongoing ‘Burma Project’, was made possible with kind support by <RheeYeungHui Foundation

Lee Yu Kyung in Burma

Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State in Western Burma has succeeded in virtually ‘Muslims-Free Street’ ever since the sectarian violence turned to be a massacre against Muslims took place in 2012. From busy market to quiet alley, Muslims have been wiped out to be seen nowhere. Yet they are found either IDPs Camp on the outskirt of Sittwe, or the last Muslims quarter of the city named Aung Mingalar.

The Camp is vast ghetto field sheltering more than a hundred of thousands Muslims. Aung Mingalar is a ‘ghetto in downtown’ which is surrounded by several checkpoints and invisible but vigilant Buddhists neighbors. ‘’It is not segregation but for security”, argue some Buddhists, including democracy activists in the country. Their excuse is to ‘prevent further clash by inevitably separating the two communities’. It is, of course, segregation motivated racially and religiously. And Burma’s Apartheid.

I’ve recently traveled to Arakan State as well as Meiktila, Mandalay region in upper Burma. Meiktila was another occasion to have witnessed over a hundred of Muslims got massacred in front of unnerved police in March 2013. Islamic school and students, Muslims villages and villagers, and 12 mosques of the city’s 13 mosques were hacked by Buddhist mobs. It thus deserves to be called a ‘massacre of Islam’. Meiktila today appears little better than Sittwe. Thousands of the displaced whose lives are in disarray around the IDPs camps have no place to return. Ever marginalized Muslims live in constant fear.

Human rights groups have now warned what they call ‘ethnic cleansing’ could be developed to an extent of genocide, unless hatred violence against Muslims is to be braked.

Welcome to Aung Mingalar, Burma’s Apartheid (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Welcome to Aung Mingalar, Burma’s Apartheid (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is a ghetto in downtown. Several thousands of Muslims living Aung Mingalar are denied freedom of  movement. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is a ghetto in downtown. Several thousands of Muslims living Aung Mingalar are denied freedom of movement. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is the last Muslims quarter left after the massacre of 2012. Residents of the quarter are denied freedom of movement, which has seriously affected their livelihood. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is the last Muslims quarter left after the massacre of 2012. Residents of the quarter are denied freedom of movement, which has seriously affected their livelihood. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Armed guards are stationed inside Aung Mingalar, which is surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Armed guards are stationed inside Aung Mingalar, which is already surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A resident try to express the situation of theirs being stuck in the quarter. Aung Minglara is surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A resident tries to express the situation of theirs being stuck in the quarter. Aung Minglara is surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

The violence in Arankan State in 2012 has more marginalized Rohingya Muslims than ever before as they were driven out from the city area. The UN describes Rohingya, who’s deprived of citizenship, is one of the most persecuted minorities on earth. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

The violence in Arankan State in 2012 has more marginalized Rohingya Muslims than ever before as they were driven out from the city area. The UN describes Rohingya, who’s deprived of citizenship, is one of the most persecuted minorities on earth. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Security forces in Aung Mingalar are unpleased being photographed. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Security forces in Aung Mingalar are unpleased being photographed. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A resident try to express the situation of theirs being stuck in the quarter. Aung Minglara is surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Another resident tries to express the situation of theirs being stuck in the quarter. People in Aung Minglara are denied freedom of going to market. The quarter is surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire.
(Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is the last Muslim quarter in Sittwe left after a massacre in 2012. Residents are confined within the quarter surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Aung Mingalar is the last Muslim quarter in Sittwe left after a massacre in 2012. Residents are confined within the quarter surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

‘’Rohingya used to be our citizens’’ said U Gambhira, the leader of Shaffran Revolution in 2007. He is one of few voices in Burma speaking out against violence on Muslims including Rohingya.(Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

‘’Rohingya used to be our citizens’’ said U Gambhira, the leader of Shaffran Revolution in 2007. He is one of few voices in Burma speaking out against violence on Muslims including Rohingya.(Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rohingya IDP lie down in Dapaing clinic located inside IDPs camp. He’s got injured as police forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured on Auguest 9. Some security forces and Hlun Tin (riot police) inside the camp are said to be elements of former Nasaka (or border guard force in Western Burma) which were officially disbanded in July. Muslims IDPs almost unanimously said they are afraid of more ‘police’ than the ‘army’.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rohingya IDP lie down in Dapaing clinic located inside IDPs camp. He’s got injured as police forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured on Auguest 9. Some security forces and Hlun Tin (riot police) inside the camp are said to be elements of former Nasaka (or border guard force in Western Burma) which were officially disbanded in July. Muslims IDPs almost unanimously said they are afraid of more ‘police’ than the ‘army’. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rohingya IDP lie down in Dapaing clinic located inside IDPs camp. He’s got injured as police forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured on Auguest 9. Some security forces and Hlun Tin (riot police) inside the camp are said to be elements of former Nasaka (or border guard force in Western Burma) which were officially disbanded in July. Muslims IDPs almost unanimously said they are afraid of more ‘police’ than the ‘army’.   (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rohingya IDP lie down in Dapaing clinic located inside IDPs camp. He’s got injured as police forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured on Auguest 9. Some security forces and Hlun Tin (riot police) inside the camp are said to be elements of former Nasaka (or border guard force in Western Burma) which were officially disbanded in July. Muslims IDPs almost unanimously said they are afraid of more ‘police’ than the ‘army’. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

13.A Rohingya IDP lie down inside a truck at yard of Dapaing clinic in IDPs camp. He’s got injured as security forces shot at crowd on August 9, resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured. Despite his serious injury, he was left with no emergency treatment or ambulance brought-in at photographing time on August 10. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

13. A Rohingya IDP lie down inside a truck at yard of Dapaing clinic in IDPs camp. He’s got injured as security forces shot at crowd on August 9, resulting in a few deaths and a dozen injured. Despite his serious injury, he was left with no emergency treatment or ambulance brought-in at photographing time on August 10. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

14.An injured Rohingya IDP is being transported to hospital by trawshaw (local transport) a day after shooting incident, in which security forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd on August 9. Local residents and IDPs in the camp area claimed security forces detained the injured inside the police station to release them later on. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

14. An injured Rohingya IDP was being transported to hospital by trawshaw (local transport) a day after shooting incident, in which security forces in Ohn Daw Gyi and Baw Du Paw camps have shot at crowd on August 9. Local residents and IDPs in the camp area claimed security forces detained the injured inside the police station to release them later on. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Another injured person named ''Jamal'' was being transported to hospital by his relatives on August 10, a day after he got shot. They said they had walked for three hours from the far-distanced Sit Tet Maw Gyi camp, where Jamal shot by security forces. He was announced to be dead on August 11 till when he could not get any proper operation.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Another injured person named ”Jamal” was being transported to hospital by his relatives on August 10, a day after he got shot. They said they had walked for three hours from the far-distanced Sit Tet Maw Gyi camp, where Jamal shot by security forces. He was announced to be dead on August 11 till when he could not get any proper operation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Nassir Abdulla (25) was shot dead on August 9 as he crossed the road from market to Baw Du Paw camp, where he lived. He had two gun shots to his back. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Nassir Abdulla (25) was shot dead on August 9 as he crossed the road from market to Baw Du Paw camp, where he lived. He had two gun shots to his back. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rubber bullets and live ammunition were left seen in Baw Du Paw IDPs camp, where the second shooting by security forces took place on August 9. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rubber bullets and live ammunition were left seen in Baw Du Paw IDPs camp, where the second shooting by security forces took place on August 9. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rohingya IDP Abu Sidique (44) said he voted for ‘Than Shwe party’ in the last election in 2010 as the party had promised Rohingya to grant them citizenship.  Abu felt betrayed. ‘’I will never vote for that party’’ he said.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rohingya IDP Abu Sidique (44) said he voted for ‘Than Shwe party’ in the last election in 2010 as the party had promised Rohingya to grant them citizenship. Abu felt betrayed. ‘’I will never vote for that party’’ he said. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

During the violence in 2012 Rohingya woman Nor Jan (54) has lost her white card, the one used for Rohingya to vote or to get permission for movement otherwise useless. As the 1982 citizenship law has been started to be implemented early 90s, the then military regime SLORC issued the new card called National Scrutiny Card (or NSC, pink card) in an exchange of the previous ID card called National Registration Card (or NRC, green card). However many Rohingya, who submitted NRC card, got issued white card instead of pink card. And also around the time of referendum for 2008 constitution and 2010 general election, authority massively issued white cards for Rohingya to encourage vote for their favor. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

During the violence in 2012 Rohingya woman Nor Jan (54) has lost her white card, the one used for Rohingya to vote or to get permission for movement otherwise useless. As the 1982 citizenship law has been started to be implemented early 90s, the then military regime SLORC issued the new card called National Scrutiny Card (or NSC, pink card) in an exchange of the previous ID card called National Registration Card (or NRC, green card). However many Rohingya, who submitted NRC card, got issued white card instead of pink card. And also around the time of referendum for 2008 constitution and 2010 general election, authority massively issued white cards for Rohingya to encourage vote for their favor. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Public toilet in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Sittwe. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Public toilet in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Sittwe. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Sa King Tha, is known to be relatively moderate and cooperative with International NGOs in Sittwe. He, however, has claimed that root cause of the conflict was because Rohingya Muslims have produced too many children. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Sa King Tha, is known to be relatively moderate and cooperative with International NGOs in Sittwe. He, however, has claimed that root cause of the conflict was because Rohingya Muslims have produced too many children. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Main market in Sittwe, where there used to be over 300 Muslims shops, but all had been driven out. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Main market in Sittwe, where there used to be over 300 Muslims shops, but all had been driven out. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Fishermen at the wharf of Sittwe. It is said to be one of places from where refugee were fleeing by boats during and after the last year’s violence. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Fishermen at the wharf of Sittwe. It is said to be one of places from where refugee were fleeing by boats during and after the last year’s violence. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Maramagy children work in market area. Their appearance is closer to Rohingya but they are Buddhists. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Maramagy children were at work in market area. Their appearance is closer to Rohingya but they are Buddhists. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rakhine Buddhist protests against Tomas Quintana, the UN Human rights envoy to Burma. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Rakhine Buddhist was protesting against Tomas Quintana, the UN Human rights envoy to Burma. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rakhine IDPs were testifying their experience during the sectarian violence in June 2012. They said they do not want to live with Muslims anymore at all. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rakhine IDPs are testifying their experience during the sectarian violence in June 2012. They said they do not want to live with Muslims anymore at all. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rakhine IDPs camp in Sittwe appears tidy and well cared by the state government. They have no restriction of movement unlike Muslims IDPs. (Phhoto © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Rakhine IDPs camp in Sittwe appears tidy and well cared by the state government. They have no restriction of movement unlike Muslims IDPs. (Phhoto © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Tomas Quintana was meeting with renowned monks at Shwezedi monastery in Sittwe. Some of monks in Sittwe were actively involved in 2007 Shaffron revolution.  Nontheless they are heavily nationalistic, holding suspicion on the UN envoy Tomas Quintana being biased.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Tomas Quintana was meeting with renowned monks at Shwezedi monastery in Sittwe. Some of monks in Sittwe were actively involved in 2007 Shaffron revolution. Nontheless they are heavily nationalistic, holding suspicion on the UN envoy Tomas Quintana being biased. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Sittwe Prison. Political prisoners including Min Ko Naing used to be jailed in Sittwe Prison. These days, Rohingya prisoners including renowned lawyer activist Kyaw Hla Aung have been jailed in the prison.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Sittwe Prison. Political prisoners including Min Ko Naing used to be jailed in Sittwe Prison. These days, Rohingya prisoners including renowned lawyer activist Kyaw Hla Aung have been jailed in the prison. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Wirathu, the monk leading the Buddhist extremist 969 movement showed a picture of a Muslims man, who U Wirathu claimed, committed domestic violence against his Buddhist wife. He has advocated that Buddhist women should not married to Muslims men.  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Wirathu, the monk leading the Buddhist extremist 969 movement showed a picture of a Muslims man, who U Wirathu claimed, committed domestic violence against his Buddhist wife. He has advocated that Buddhist women should not married to Muslims men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Meiktila, the small trade town in upper Burma, has witnessed ‘massacre of Islam’ in March 2013. Muslims quarters were devastated and bulldozed. According to Muslim representatives, local government has summoned them after the massacre assuring the land would be belong to government, and there will be new construction project building Apartment. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Meiktila, the small trade town in upper Burma, has witnessed ‘massacre of Islam’ in March 2013. Muslims quarters were devastated and bulldozed. According to Muslim representatives, local government has summoned them after the massacre assuring the land would be belong to government, and there will be new construction project building Apartment. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Muslim woman in Meiktila was repairing cloths by sewing machine at home. Before and after the March massacre, Muslim business and their livelihood have been heavily affected by the violence as well as the 969 boycott. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Muslim woman in Meiktila was repairing cloths by sewing machine at home. Before and after the March massacre, Muslim business and their livelihood have been heavily affected by the violence as well as the 969 boycott. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims IDPs in Meiktila have no idea as to when they could return home. A few thousands IDPs have been sheltered in four camps around Meiktila. Three of them have been controlled by government, who hardly allow IDPs to move in and out of the camps. One is not recognized by the government but cared by NGO. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims IDPs in Meiktila have no idea as to when they could return home. A few thousands IDPs have been sheltered in four camps around Meiktila. Three of them have been controlled by government, who hardly allow IDPs to move in and out of the camps. One is not recognized by the government but cared by NGO. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims woman in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Meiktila. Muslims IDPs in Meiktila have no idea as to when they could return home after half a year has been passed since the violence. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims woman in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Meiktila. Muslims IDPs in Meiktila have no idea as to when they could return home after half a year has been passed since the violence. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims family in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Meiktila (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims family in the IDPs camp on the outskirt of Meiktila (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Pyii Kyaw, a monk from Rangoon’s Shwe War Yaung monastery, which had become famous for its active involvement in Shaffron Revolution in 2007. He is sympathetic of Muslims grievances and outspoken critic of   extremist monk U Wirathu. When it comes to Rohingya, however, he has opinioned mainstream view which is to say ‘’Rohingya is illegal migrants and invaders’’. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

U Pyii Kyaw, a monk from Rangoon’s Shwe War Yaung monastery, which had become famous for its active involvement in Shaffron Revolution in 2007. He is sympathetic of Muslims grievances and outspoken critic of extremist monk U Wirathu. When it comes to Rohingya, however, he has opinioned mainstream view which is to say ‘’Rohingya is illegal migrants and invaders’’. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

People were reading newspaper at  Myanmar Convention Center, where the 25th anniversary of the 88 Uprising had been celebrated for three days. Freedom of expression is the most outstanding aspect of the Burma’s 2 years old reform process. Yet it comes along with ‘freedom of hate speech’ while the freedom has not been applied in the anti-Muslims conflict zones. Special branch is active in the zones. Intimidation and fear are palpable. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

People were reading newspaper at Myanmar Convention Center, where the 25th anniversary of the 88 Uprising had been celebrated for three days. Freedom of expression is the most outstanding aspect of the Burma’s 2 years old reform process. Yet it comes along with ‘freedom of hate speech’ while the freedom has not been applied in the anti-Muslims conflict zones. Special branch is active in the zones. Intimidation and fear are palpable. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Dozens of Rangoon citizens have marched through the city on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the 88 Uprising. They're not happy with the fact that 88 Generation, the main organizer of the ceremony, has invited government, who the protesters saw culprits of the brutal crackdown 25 years ago. Instead, this handful of people have demanded former and current generals apologize. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Dozens of Rangoon citizens have marched through the city on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the 88 Uprising. They’re not happy with the fact that 88 Generation, the main organizer of the ceremony, has invited government, who the protesters saw culprits of the brutal crackdown 25 years ago. Instead, this handful of people have demanded former and current generals apologize. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims community in Rangoon were praying before sharing Iftar, the breakfast meal after sunset during the Ramadan month. Although Rangoon is considered to be safe for Muslims so far, they’ve got growing fear as their fellow Muslims across the country have been attacked. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Muslims community in Rangoon were praying before sharing Iftar, the breakfast meal after sunset during the Ramadan month. Although Rangoon is considered to be safe for Muslims so far, they’ve got growing fear as their fellow Muslims across the country have been attacked. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Muslim charity in Rangoon has distributed food parcels to poor Muslims neighbors during the Ramadan. It is known that Muslims share more charity and donation during the Ramadan period. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

A Muslim charity in Rangoon has distributed food parcels to poor Muslims neighbors during the Ramadan. It is known that Muslims share more charity and donation during the Ramadan period. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Street of Rangoon. The old but now commercial capital is a main entrance of the country. It is one of the places where impact of so-called reform has been felt most. Reports have suggested that it is also safer place for Muslims to stay as more Muslims from troubled regions have moved to take shelter in Rangoon (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Street of Rangoon. The old but now commercial capital is a main entrance of the country. It is one of the places where impact of so-called reform has been felt most. Reports have suggested that it is also safer place for Muslims to stay as more Muslims from troubled regions have moved to take shelter in Rangoon (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Ashin Jinay, the young monk from Mandalay, was making harmonious speech at the press conference organized by Muslims organization in Rangoon. This is an act needing braveness in Burma’s context, as the country's Buddhist community has been overwhelmed by anti-Muslims sentiment and violence, otherwise silenced. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Ashin Jinay, the young monk from Mandalay, was making harmonious speech at the press conference organized by Muslims organization in Rangoon. This is an act needing braveness in Burma’s context, as the country’s Buddhist community has been overwhelmed by anti-Muslims sentiment and violence, otherwise silenced. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

43.Min Ko Naing from 88 Generation and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended at the ceremony of the 25th anniversary of 88 Uprising in Rangoon. As the new Burma has been embracing more and more violence against Muslims, some members of the 88 Generations and the NLD alike have not hidden their Islamophobic racism.  (Phhoto © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

43. Min Ko Naing from 88 Generation and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended at the ceremony of the 25th anniversary of 88 Uprising in Rangoon. As the new Burma has been embracing more and more violence against Muslims, some members of the 88 Generations and the NLD alike have not hidden their Islamophobic racism. (Phhoto © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

ABSDF, the student rebels which has been fighting in jungle for 25 years and 88 Generation who’s been fighting in city are seen hand in hand after the former has signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. Although the Burma’s two years old reform has ambitiously pushed for nation-wide ceasefire with armed groups, the country has been engulfed into ongoing violence in ethnic areas let alone sharply worsening violence against Muslims seeding another conflict. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

ABSDF, the student rebels which has been fighting in jungle for 25 years and 88 Generation who’s been fighting in city are seen hand in hand after the former has signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. Although the Burma’s two years old reform has ambitiously pushed for nation-wide ceasefire with armed groups, the country has been engulfed into ongoing violence in ethnic areas let alone sharply worsening violence against Muslims seeding another conflict. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

** To see the slideshow of the essay, click here

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