New Violence in Rakhine

Fatalities are reported in Burma's volatile Rakhine state as villages are torched.
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A resident walks past a destroyed building following days of violence in Rakhine's capital Sittwe, June 16, 2012.
A resident walks past a destroyed building following days of violence in Rakhine's capital Sittwe, June 16, 2012.

Violence has flared up again between ethnic Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas in western Burma, with at least three people killed and five injured, according to sources and reports.

Three predominantly Muslim villages were razed around Kyauktaw town in Rakhine state on Sunday and another village was burned on Monday, the sources said in the first fatalities reported since violence in June left 78 people dead and displaced 70,000 others, according to official figures.

Some 160 houses were torched on Sunday evening alone, according to the local Voice Weekly as pressure mounted on the Burmese authorities to contain the bloodshed, which has cast a cloud over reforms pursued by President Thein Sein nominally civilian government after decades of brutal military rule.

Rakhine state government information officer Win Myaing could not provide details on any fatalities when asked by RFA to comment on the new violence.

"Information is not available on any fatalities but two persons were injured," he said.

Aung Mya Kyaw, a member of parliament with the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) who is also a native of the state capital, Sittwe, called for more cooperation between the state administration and the central government in Naypyidaw.

"The clashes started Sunday evening between the Rakhines and Rohingyas with each group burning the houses of the other," he said.

"On Sunday afternoon, four villages were razed around Kyauktaw, so security was tightened in the town and the four villages surrounding it," Aung Mya Kyaw said.

Kyauktaw is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe.

Independent probe

The fresh violence came amid calls for an independent probe into the June bloodshed.

Both the Rakhines and the Rohingyas have been blamed for sparking the violence, but human rights groups say the minority Muslim Rohingya group bore the brunt of action by Burmese security forces.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch accused security forces of opening fire on the Muslim Rohingya and committing rape.

The Burmese government has moved to restore law and order in Rakhine state, including the deployment of additional security forces to the area, and the establishment of a commission to investigate the incidents that sparked the communal violence.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana said at the weekend, following a visit to Rakhine state at the invitation of the Burmese government, that an "independent and credible investigation" into allegations of human rights violations was "a matter of urgency."

"Reconciliation will not be possible without this, and exaggerations and distortions will fill the vacuum to further fuel distrust and tensions between communities," he said.

The head of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday proposed sending a mission to probe the violence.

It will try to persuade the Burmese government to accept a fact-finding mission, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told an executive committee meeting of the world's largest Muslim grouping, which is based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, Agence France-Presse reported.

Burma does not recognize the Rohingya as one of its ethnic groups, considering them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though they have lived in the Southeast Asian country for generations.

The U.N. says that about 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma and that they are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

Reported by Min Thein Aung and Ingjin Naing for RFA's Burmese service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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