Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three dead in clashes in Rakhine State

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 12:47 Mizzima News

Three people died and hundreds of homes were burned in violent clashes starting on Sunday between Muslims and Buddhists in the western Rakhine State in Burma, officials report.

Some 300 homes in several villages were destroyed, said the Rakhine State attorney general, according to a report by the BBC Burmese service on Monday.

This picture taken on October 13, 2012, shows a policeman sitting behind a barbed wire fence blocking the entrance into the Aung Mingalar quarter, which has turned into a ghetto after violence wracked the city of Sittwe, the capital of Burma's western Rakhine State. Photo: AFP

Aid workers and others had warned that tensions in the area had remained volatile since June when a state of emergency was declared in Rakhine State after deadly clashes between the two communities, claiming hundreds of lives and thousands of homes burned.

This week, Mizzima reported that efforts by the government-appointed commission to investigate the recent communal violence in Rakhine State have been blocked by local community members “from all sides” who refuse to cooperate, according to reports.

Zarganar, a popular entertainer who is one of 27 commission members, told Radio Free Asia (RFA), “At some point, things have become tougher as we do not have enough cooperation from all sides. For example the local ethnic Rakhine, Muslim community, government offices, and even the members of parliament have become increasingly less willing to participate.”

Communal violence initially erupted in the state in late May when a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered by three Muslims, who were quickly tried and sentenced to death.

In response to the assault, a mob killed 10 Muslims in retaliation, setting off a series of reprisals.

The latest clashes began late on Sunday night in villages in Rakhine's Min Bya Township, eyewitnesses told the BBC.

On Monday more homes were burned down as the violence spread, officials said.

It is unclear what prompted the latest clashes. Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists blame each other for the violence, reports said.

In the June clashes, sectarian clashes spread across the state, with houses of both Buddhists and Muslims destroyed.

There is long-standing tension between Rakhine people, who are Buddhist and make up the majority of the state's population, and Muslims, many of whom are Rohingya. The Burmese authorities regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants.

In August Burma set up a commission to investigate the violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the west of the country. Authorities earlier rejected a UN-led inquiry.

Leave a Reply