Skip to comments.969’: The three digits that are terrifying Muslims in Burma
Posted on 05/04/2013 10:24:54 AM PDT by csvset
969: The three digits that are terrifying Muslims in Burma
This photo shows the cover of two CDs with the '969' logo at the top. On the far right is the monk Wirathu, the leader of the '969' campaign. The CD is titled "Monks' teachings: How to protect our religion and nation." Photo courtesy of MMedia.
Brightly-coloured posters and stickers bearing the number "969" are popping up in cities all over Burma. These look innocuous enough at first glance. However, 969 actually denotes an anti-Islam campaign led by hardliner Buddhist monks. Burmese Muslims say it has stirred up hatred and paranoia, resulting in a string of bloody anti-Muslim riots across the country over the past weeks.
The three digits 969 originally refer to the Buddhas three jewels , but they are now being used as a brand name for a nationalist, anti-Muslim campaign led by a prominent monk based in Mandalay. Wirathu, who likes to refer to himself as the Burmese Bin Laden, was jailed in 2003 for inciting riots against Muslims, but was released as part of a general amnesty in 2012. Since then, hes spearheaded the fast-growing 969 movement, making numerous speeches calling on Buddhists to buy 969 and boycott Muslim-owned stores.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has boiled over repeatedly since the 969 campaign first emerged several months ago. In late March, rioters went on a three-day rampage in the central town of Meikhtila, burning down Muslims homes, businesses, and mosques. About 40 people were killed. The remnants of Muslim-owned stores were spray-painted with the digits 969. Many witnesses said that during all this, the police stood by and watched. Shortly afterwards, more riots erupted in the Bago region after travelling monks preached the 969 ideology. And early this week, fresh clashes broke out in Oakkan, a town north of Rangoon, where at least one person was killed.
With no end to these tensions in sight, thousands of Muslims displaced by these recent riots are staying shut up in refugee camps. According to the latest census, Muslims make up about 4 percent of Burmas total population.
An activist placing a pamphlet calling for peace between religions on the windshield of a taxi bearing 969 stickers (circled in red). Photo published on Facebook by CJMyanmar. Photos of the 969 campaign are rather difficult to obtain, due to the sensitive nature of the subject. However, one Malaysian journalist was able to film 969 propaganda in a Rangoon market.
My sister, who owns a store, has lost nearly all of her customers since the start of the 969 campaign
Aung (not her real name) lives in Rangoon. She is Muslim.
I started seeing 969 stickers and signs in Rangoon just a couple months ago. Some shopkeepers put them on their storefronts, and taxi drivers stick them to their windshields. Its a minority, but it belies a wider boycott of Muslim stores. Supporters of 969 have been passing out pamphlets telling people not to shop at Muslim-owned stores.
My sister owns a store, and has lost nearly all her customers since the start of this campaign. They know shes Muslim she looks Muslim, and wears a scarf. Like many other Muslim business owners, she is facing serious financial troubles because of this boycott.
All of my closest friends are Buddhists, and all of them avoid me these days
I recently visited one of my oldest friends stores, and noticed she had put up a 969 sign. Shes Buddhist and has recently started treating me like a stranger, so I didnt dare ask her why she did this. All of my closest friends are Buddhists, and all of them avoid me these days.
I dont feel safe in Rangoon anymore. I dont think Muslims are safe anywhere in this country right now. I would like to go live abroad, but my parents are too old to move, and I cant leave them alone.
A 969 sticker in a Rangoon textile store. This photo was sent to us by one of our Observers.
The more we see the 969 signs, the more we feel unsafe
Ko Moe Myint (not his real name) is a technician who lives in Naypyidaw, Burmas capital. He is Muslim.
In Naypyidaw, the 969 campaign has really kicked off in the past few days. Unknown people in vans are now going around house-to-house, shop-by-shop to distribute 969 stickers and DVDs. Theyre also putting stickers up in public areas, like at bus stops. Its like theyre carrying out a marketing campaign! Theyre doing this mainly along Yaza Hta Nay Road, which is a major business area but is also home to a mixed community of Buddhists, Muslims and some Chinese business people.
Recently, Ive also seen lots of DVDs of Wirathus speeches being sold in town. One store I went to had about 100 copies. Newspaper vendors sell it out on the street, too. Lots of copies are spreading hand-to-hand. Others spread his speeches online, mainly through Facebook.
Some 969 campaigners told people that meat and vegetables sold at Muslim-owned stores were poisonous
This campaign is clearly influencing Buddhists quite a lot. For example, Im currently building a house, and some of my employees are Buddhists. Theyve just quit. They either dont want or dont dare to talk to me anymore. I saw 969 stickers on their motorbikes.
Buddhists now go only to shops owned by Buddhists. Some 969 campaigners warned people not to eat meat and vegetables bought at Muslim-owned stores. They told them that it was poisonous! They said that it was not poisonous immediately, but in six months
Some Buddhists say that the 969 campaign doesnt attack other religions, that it is just expressing pride in Buddhism. However, since its emerged, Muslim communities across the country have been targeted! For us Muslims, 969 is a sign of violence, a threat. The more we see the signs, the more we feel unsafe. Buddhist and Muslim communities that had lived together peacefully in the past are now torn apart because of 969. As long as this campaign exists, I dont think there will be any stability in Burma.
This flyer reads: "Protect your race and religion. Avoid to buy anything with the label of 786, meaning 'halal'. Don't deal with Muslim 'Kalar' [a derogatory term for Burmese Muslims] for friendship, marriage, or business. Myanmar girls must avoid falling in love with Muslim 'Kalar'. Everyone must be responsible for preventing Myanmar from becoming an Islamic country." Photo courtesy of MMedia.
Ko Moe Myint
If I ever go there I think I’ll bring my own lunch.
Wonder how the author of this article, Ko Moe Myint, relates this to the killing of Christians in the middle east?
“Great idea, I hope it catches on”
I’ll be speaking to a friend who makes bumper stickers about a simple 969 sticker.
I not heard that (rapes) but Muslims in Bangladesh (and Afghanistan) have been burning Buddhist Temples for a while now.
Now the muslims know what its like to be Christian in a muslim country.
Create some 969 stickers. Distribute everywhere.
Bullies tend to back down when someone stands up to them.
If the Buddhists want to do that, good for them.
The enemy of your enemy may not be your friend, but he may be useful.
Karma's a bitch, ain't it?
In the interests of diversity and multiculturalism I'm adding it to my tagline.
Right on!!! I call this kick-ass Buddhism, dishing out to lo-IQ inbred Muzzies what they have been doing for the last 14 centuries
BTW Muzzies are raising hell in South Thailand, driving out and killing Buddhists. Burmese don’t want the same.
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