Jun 12 2012
The unrest in Myanmar was triggered by the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, by three Muslims, and the June 3rd slaughter of 10 Muslims in apparent retaliation. As a result, mass violence started in Maungdaw township, when a mob of 1,000 crazed Muslims, described as ‘terrorists’ in the state media, went on a rampage and had to be restrained by armed troops.
Business Week The United Nations refugee agency called for Bangladesh to welcome Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar. But even Muslim countries don’t want these Muslims. Neighboring Bangladesh has turned back about 1,500 Rohingyas trying to escape by boat in recent days, according to officials there. “We are keeping our eyes open so that nobody can enter Bangladesh illegally,” police official Jahangir Alam said.
The conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against stateless Rohingya Muslims in coastal Rakhine state marks some of the worst sectarian unrest recorded in Myanmar in years. From Friday through Monday, the evening’s news report said, 21 people have been killed, 21 wounded and 1,662 houses burned down around Rakhine state. Buddhists make up some 89 percent of the population of Myanmar, with Muslims officially representing four percent.
On Tuesday in Sittwe, police fired live rounds into the air to disperse Rohingya Muslims who could be seen burning homes in one neighborhood. Hordes of people ran to escape the chaos. “Smoke is billowing from many directions, and we are scared,” said Ma Thein, an ethnic Rakhine resident in Sittwe.
In one district, police fired skyward to separate hundreds-strong mobs wielding sticks and stones; in another, soldiers helped move 1,000 Muslims by trucks to safer areas.
State TV showed Defense Minister Gen. Hla Min visiting refugee camps for Rakhine Muslims opened at Buddhist monasteries and distributing food and other relief goods. It was the first time state television showed a camp housing Muslims.
President Thein Sein earlier ordered a period of emergency rule in response to riots that saw hundreds of Buddhist villagers’ homes set ablaze and left seven dead on Friday and Saturday, according to state television, adding that the unrest was “increasing” Violent attacks fueled by “hatred and revenge based on religion and nationality” in Rakhine could spread to other parts of the country
Myanmar’s government regards the Rohingya Muslims as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and has rendered them stateless by denying them citizenship. Although some are recent settlers, many have lived in Myanmar for generations and rights groups say they suffer severe discrimination. (Oh, boo hoo, no matter where Muslims go, they incite hatred towards them)
Human Rights Watch called on the government to “take all necessary steps” to protect at-risk Muslim communities and questioned the decision to call a state of emergency, which allows the military to take over administrative functions in the area.