Author(s): Francis Wade
For decades Myanmar has been portrayed as a case of good citizen versus bad regime - men in jackboots maintaining a suffocating rule over a majority Buddhist population beholden to the ideals of non-violence and tolerance. But in recent years this narrative has been upended.
In June 2012, violence between Buddhists and Muslims erupted in western Myanmar, pointing to a growing divide between religious communities that before had received little attention from the outside world. Attacks on Muslims soon spread across the country, leaving hundreds dead, entire neighbourhoods turned to rubble, and tens of thousands of Muslims confined to internment camps. This violence, breaking out amid the passage to democracy, was spurred on by monks, pro-democracy activists, and even politicians.
In this gripping and deeply reported account, Francis Wade explores how the manipulation of identities by an anxious ruling elite has laid the foundations for mass violence, and how, in Myanmar's case, some of the most respected and articulate voices for democracy have turned on the Muslim population at a time when the majority of citizens are beginning to experience freedoms unseen for half a century.
Francis Wade is a journalist specialising in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. He began reporting on Myanmar in 2009 with the exiled Democratic Voice of Burma news organisation, based in Northern Thailand, before going on to cover in-depth the transition from military rule and the violence that accompanied it. He has reported from across South and Southeast Asia for The Guardian, TIME, Foreign Policy Magazine, and others. He is now based in London.
Prologue1. The First Wave: The Murder, the Smoke and the Ruins2. Sons of Whose Soil? Britain and the Birth of a Fractured Nation3. The Art of Belonging: A Peculiar Transaction in Yangon4. Us and Them: Making Identities, Manipulating Divides5. Ruling the Unruly: Social Engineering and the Village of Prisoners6. 2012: Season of Violence7. At First Light the Darkness Fell: Myanmar's Democratic Experiment Falters8. `We Came Down from the Sky': The Buddhist Preachers of Hate9. Apartheid State: Camps, Ghettos, and the New Architecture of Control10. U Maung Soe: An Outcast in Disguise11. In the Old Cinema Hut: Fear, Hope and the Heroes We Forget