Book: Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority
Chapter: 8. Humanizing the Rohingya Beyond Victimization: A Portrait
In 2014, I began working on my MA Thesis titled, The Gender Problem of Buddhist Nationalism: The 969 Movement and Therāvada Nuns. The project was based on an analysis of interviews with U Ashin Wirathu and Buddhist nuns and Buddhist nationalist discourses of gender and violence against religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar. It argued that Burmese Buddhist nationalists’ marginalization of the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority is inextricably linked to their attempts to control Buddhist women. In 2018, I began to explore a fundamental issue that continues to plague the Rohingya—the emphasis on the Rohingya as victims of nationalist systemic Buddhist violence. This paper sets out to bring Rohingya agency to the forefront. Rohingyas are characterized as immutably foreign and Muslim—that is, they are labeled with an identity convenient to state-sangha oppression. Through interviews with relocated Rohingya society members and the mentoring of Dr. Jerryson, this work is dedicated to the rehumanization and devictimization of the Rohingya.