Aung San Suu Kyi, the Rohingya People, and Buddhist Extremism
Original title: Aung San Suu Kyi, Rohingyas et extrémistes bouddhistes
The Buddhist extremist phenomenon in Myanmar (formerly Burma), incarnated by the bonze Wirathu, surprised everyone who thought of Buddhism as a religion of peace, or simply a form of spirituality. In order to understand and explain it, Benoît Guillaume and Frédéric Debomy went to Myanmar. Over the course of their travels and the many encounters they made there, they explored a society deeply damaged by decades of military dictatorship, and obsessed with issues of national identity. They saw that the extremist monks’ intolerance was rampant in Myanmar society at large; and that Muslims, the principal target of that intolerance, were not the only ones paying the price. Christians are not always spared either, and women are subject to tremendous discrimination.
In that context, the dictatorship’s best-known opponent, who eventually came partially to power, has disappointed those who saw her as an icon of peace and democracy. Her stance seems to be the result both of a complicated context and her own personal evolution. Following in the authors’ footsteps, readers will come to see just how far the country still has to go before it can experience true democracy.