English: Culture and Thinking
Intercultural communication aims at sharing information among people from different cultures. It encompasses wide a range of communication procedures and deals with problems faced when people from different culture are working together in one organization. The article selected for this paper is “The Crisis in Burma” taken from the website of International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP); link of the article is mentioned in the citation. In this paper, only Part VI of the article will be summarized and compared with the Bennett article as it is only this part that deals with the ethnic and religious discrimination with Rohingya group in Burma.
In Burma, there live different ethnic groups to include Burman, Shan, Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Mon and Rohingya. Since 2012, ethnic tension has prevailed in the country and Rohingya Muslims, who are a minority, have been the victims of recent discrimination and state sponsored violence in Burma. Rohingya Muslims live in Rakhine state and have been the prime target of religious and ethnic discrimination for a decade. In 1982, Burma citizenship law excluded Rohingyas from Burmese legal recognition. Rohingyas are often called Bengalis with the mindset that they are from Bangladesh and do not belong to Burma. Recently a “ Campaign of Exclusion” started by radical Buddhist Monks that worsened the situation for Rohingya Muslims. The hatred is spread by the leader of controversial and polarizing 969 Buddhist National Movement Mr. U Wirathu. He considers Rohingya Muslims as enemies to Burma, and he contemplates that Rohingya has a secret master plan of taking over the whole country and Islamize it. He also advises Buddhist to do business and marriages from within the Buddhist community in order to preserve the Buddhist Culture and identity. U Wirathu delivers regular hate speeches against Muslims and considers Rohingya a threat to the culture and the country. He fears rapid increase in population of Muslims might surpass Buddhist someday. Another aspect that U Wirathu has recently started linking with Muslims is of terrorism. His above stance grants him the justification to persecute Muslims to maintain national security.
In 2012, several ethnic clashes took place in Rakhine state, and thousands of Muslims got killed and their properties ransacked. It started off from a small incident of a girl’s rape that people believed was raped and killed by three Muslim. As a result of this violence, President Sein declared the state of emergency in the state and gave full authority to Burmese Army. State security forces unleashed hell on the Rohingya Muslims, and they were killed in thousands and displaced in millions. President Sein told representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that Rohingya Muslims are not Burmese national; they should either live in refugee camps or should leave the country.
Rohingya has been subjected to the worst and state sponsored human rights abuse in Burma. Government’s aggressions have also increased in another state ‘Kachin’ that is located in the North of Burma and borders People’s Republic of China. There was a 17 years old ceasefire with local Muslim of Kachin state that was broken by the state forces and all types of human rights abuses were undertaken by the security forces.
Violence against Rohingya Muslims in Burma has attracted the world attention, and International Crisis Group has reported widespread ethnic violence in Rakhine state targeting the minority Rohingya Muslims. In March 2013, UN Special representative Tomas Ojea Quintana reported several concerns on human right abuses against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine and Kachin states. The nature of human rights abuses in Burma indicates a clear intent by the government to allow ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims from Burma, and this is also an evidence of ethnic and religious discrimination against Muslims by Burmese government.
The Selected article shows much of sympathy and empathy to the Milton J. Bennett’s article studied in the class. Understanding the differences and living in harmony despite all the differences is the requirement of inter-culture harmony. All the headings given in Milton J. Bennett’s article are ideal to be followed to achieve cultural and ethnic synchronization, however, the whole process is gradual, and it leads to ultimate integration. Development of intercultural sensitivity initially through ethnocentric stages of denial, defence and minimization and later through ethnorelative stages of acceptance, adaptation and integration, is important and has to be followed a sequence to achieve integration in a culturally sensitive environment. Both the stages are necessary to achieve integration in order to ensure equal rights for all the communities living in a country. However, article studied has no stages being followed in this context. The whole series of events is still in the ethnocentric stage in Burma and things are not moving into the ethnorelative stage. As per the Bennett’s article various skills are required to be developed in order to achieve the objective of intercultural harmony and co-existence.
Comparison between the two articles is being done under following five headings:-
- Denial of difference. The tendency to dehumanize the outsiders or the minority. In the case of article studied, we have seen that all the efforts by state security forces and all other ethnic groups against Rohingya Muslims lead toward the denial of difference. They are determined to dehumanize the Rohingya Muslims and have already declared them non-Burmese. Here is a case of denial / separation and not a case of denial / isolation.
- Defense against Difference. Recognition of cultural difference combined with negative evaluation of native culture lead to the greater difference and more negative is the evaluation. It is a tendency in underdeveloped cultures. This recognition of difference has been most prominent in the article we have discussed. As these are the cultural differences which are playing a major role in human right abuse, in Burma.
- Minimization of Difference. Recognition and acceptance of the differences and efforts to minimize these is a step towards the next stage. In the article, this is not happening as majority and government sponsored party is not ready to move forward on difference.
- Acceptance of Difference. Recognition and appreciation of differences in behavior and value and acceptance of cultural differences is a suggested solution which is viable and understandable. However, in the referred articles, this recognition of differences has been done but not accepted.
- Adaptation to Difference. Requirement of developing communication skills where people with different cultures can communicate comfortably. No adaptation is done by Burmese to accept Rohingya Muslims as their countrymen, and they have not adapted themselves to the existence of Rohingya Muslims.
Articles, (2013). The Crisis in Burma. Web. 9 April. 2014.
Milton J. Bennett, A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. Web. 9 April. 2014. <http://www.library.wisc.edu/EDVRC/docs/public/pdfs/SEEDReadings/intCulSens.pdf>
Milton J. Bennett, Becoming Interculturally Competent. Web. 9 April. 2014.