Cutting Borders – Ethnic Tensions and Burmese Refugees

Source: Fair Observer

Source: Fair Observer

Ethnic tensions and xenophobia follow Burmese refugees across borders.

Despite independence in 1948, Burma has been plagued by problems since the military junta took state control in 1962. Power struggles, conflict, occupation, resource extraction and ethnic tensions have all incited Burma’s displacement issue. While exact numbers are unknown, estimates are in the region of 1 million internally displaced and 1 million fleeing to neighboring countries.

Recently, the media has recognized the crisis that is happening in Rakhine State, Burma, where Buddhist and Muslim tensions have forced many Rohingya to flee, even though their safety options elsewhere are limited. However, Burma is made up of 136 different ethnic groups and many that are unrecognized — the dominating group being the Barma (the indigenous majority). Many tribes belong to one overarching regional group; but even within that group, tribal rivalries exist.

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