Outbreak of ethnic violence claims 100 lives in Burma's west

Aung San Suu Kyi and others accused of failing to speak out against persecution

A new wave of ethnic violence in the west of Burma has claimed the lives of more than 100 people, and the government in Rangoon has warned that the turmoil could threaten the country’s reputation.

Earlier this summer, clashes between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Rakhine state left about 90 people dead and forced up to 75,000 from their homes. Most of those who fled this summer are still living in refugee camps. Violence erupted again earlier this week after more than 2,000 homes were set alight.

“The government is causing problems, the [Buddhist] Burmans are being encouraged to kill us, the Rohingya,” one Muslim resident, Mohammed Yayaha, told The Independent by telephone from Pauktaw township, where a village was reportedly burned down today. “The government is also trying to kill us.”

Win Myaing, a spokesman for the Rakhine state government, told reporters that 112 people had now died and a further 72 were injured, among them 10 children. The minority Rohingya community have suffered discrimination and oppression for decades. Many Burmese consider them “Bengalis” despite their having lived in Burma for centuries.

A number of the country’s most celebrated rights campaigners – including the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi – have been criticised for either failing to speak out more forcibly about the persecution of the Rohingya or for siding with those who want to expel them from the country.

Earlier this month, Buddhist monks marched through Rangoon in protest at efforts by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to establish a permanent office in the city to help the country’s Muslim communities. The proposal was subsequently rejected by President Thein Sein, who has also said he believes the Rohingya should leave Burma.

In a disturbing new development, Chris Lewa, a co-ordinator at the Arakan Project, an advocacy group monitoring the Rohingya situation in the region, said other Muslim communities in Rakhine, particularly the Kaman, were also now being targeted. She said that unlike in the summer when the clashes were triggered by the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by Rohingya men, it was unclear what was responsible for the latest violence.

“I think this is the next step of the plan to expel the Rohingya. [The authorities] have managed to get them from Sittwe [the regional capital]. Now, wherever they are in a minority, they are trying to get them out,” she said.

This week, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, issued a statement describing the latest violence as “deeply troubling” and calling on the Burmese authorities to act to end the lawlessness. “The vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped,” he said. “If this is not done, the fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardised.”

Yet in a sign of how the violence in the west of Burma is having a ripple effect elsewhere, the Rangoon-based Burmese Muslim Association said it was cancelling Eid celebrations, both out of solidarity with the Rohingya and because of concerns over safety.

According to the Associated Press, a statement released by the president and printed in a local newspaper said: “The army, police, and authorities in co-operation with local people will try to restore peace and stability and will take legal action against any individual or organisation that is trying to instigate the unrest.”

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home