Officials and divers said the boys remained remarkably upbeat during their time in the cave. Family and friends say they idolized the 25-year-old coach, onetime Buddhist novice Ekkapol Chantawong, who authorities said guided the boys through meditation to keep them calm in the 10 days before they were discovered by rescue divers.
.. The United Nations report also said that the crackdown in Rakhine had “targeted teachers, the cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.”
.. Five years ago, Sittwe, nestled in an estuary in the Bay of Bengal, was a mixed city, divided between an ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority and the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Walking Sittwe’s crowded bazaar in 2009, I saw Rohingya fishermen selling seafood to Rakhine women. Rohingya professionals practiced law and medicine. The main street in town was dominated by the Jama mosque, an Arabesque confection built in the mid-19th century. The imam spoke proudly of Sittwe’s multicultural heritage.
.. every Rakhine resident I talked to claimed, falsely, that no Muslims had ever owned shops there.
.. Mr. Kyaw Min used to teach in Sittwe, where most of his students were Rakhine Buddhists. Now, he said, even Buddhist acquaintances in Yangon are embarrassed to talk with him.
“They want the conversation to end quickly because they don’t want to think about who I am or where I came from,” he said.
.. their Bengali dialect and South Asian features often distinguishing them from Rakhine Buddhists.
.. Later attempts by a Rohingya insurgent group to exit Burma and attach northern Rakhine to East Pakistan, as Bangladesh was then known, further strained relations.
.. By the 1980s, the military junta had stripped most Rohingya of citizenship.
.. Today, far more Rohingya live outside of Myanmar — mostly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia — than remain in what they consider their homeland.
.. Even under Ne Win, the general, Burmese national radio aired broadcasts in the Rohingya language. Rohingya, women among them, were represented in Parliament.
.. “They want every Rohingya to be considered a terrorist or an illegal immigrant,” he said. “We are much more than that.”