News / Asia

Buddhist Protesters Greet UN Rights Expert in Western Burma

 A Buddhist monk shows a message written in his palm to protest against the ethnic minority Rohingyas in Burma during a visit of Burma's President Thein Sein in Bangkok, Thailand, July 24, 2012.
A Buddhist monk shows a message written in his palm to protest against the ethnic minority Rohingyas in Burma during a visit of Burma's President Thein Sein in Bangkok, Thailand, July 24, 2012.
A U.N. human rights expert has traveled to several Burmese towns in the country's west where deadly riots erupted between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims last month.

A local monk said about 100 Buddhists staged a peaceful protest in the town of Maungdaw as Tomas Ojea Quintana visited Burma's Rakhine state, near the border with Bangladesh.

U Arsi Ra said the protesters held signs urging the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR not to discriminate between Buddhists and Muslims when providing aid to tens of thousands people who fled their homes due to the riots.

"Arriving by air, Quintana met with local officials at a Maungdaw administrative office. Then, he went to see temporary refugee shelters including a high school and a monastery. Quintana leaves for Buthidaung [another border town with Bangladesh] later today. [In Maungdaw,] he is facing a protest by Buddhists who accuse the United Nations of favoring Muslims," said the monk, U Arsi Ra.

Some Rakhine Buddhists perceive the UNHCR as having a pro-Muslim bias because the U.N. agency recruited most of its Rakhine personnel from Muslim communities.

Burmese authorities have detained several UNHCR staff on suspicion of instigating the Buddhist-Muslim riots that killed more than 70 people.

In Tuesday's protest, Buddhist activists in Maungdaw also called for justice for all victims of the violence.

Foreign rights activists have accused Burmese security forces of committing abuses against Rohingyas and other minority Muslims in response to the riots. Burma has rejected the accusation and insisted that its forces exercised "maximum restraint."

Burma's government refuses to recognize the country's estimated 800,000 Rohingyas as an ethnic group and many Burmese consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

VOA Burmese Service's Moe Zaw contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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Comment Sorting
by: John from: Myanmar
August 02, 2012 9:43 AM
Dear Myanmar People and Government,
I am a Rohingya living in Arakan state in Myanmar. First of all, I would like to say “Thanks” for your people for let us live on your soil same town and living quarters as local Rakhine people while our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh living in refugee camps.

Before I go from here we are really disappoint for killing10 of our innocent Muslim. But again I must apologized for arson and crimes committed by some of our people during the conflict and same our Muslim brothers post fabricated pictures of monks buried Rohingya corpse from China earth quick and Rohingya arrested in Thailand by Thai army. As a Myanmar citizen, I will strongly recommend to punish who commit crimes both Rakhine and Rohingya and I know this is normal procedure all the governments around world will do otherwise there will be anarchy in our state and our people will run again to Bangladesh.

I fully aware that previous government persecuted all minorities group in Myanmar including us but since this new government took over they are making peace with all minorities groups in Myanmar.

In Response

by: mandyswe from: US
August 19, 2012 6:45 PM
Yeah, I was born last night and believe that you (John) are a real Rohingya. I am so grateful that after you stole my ancestral land, you let me live in squalors with no access to education for my children and no way for me to make a living because you took away my ID card and I cannot travel. Ithank Burmese government very much for the evil deeds that John the evil is committing including his propaganda.

by: HoustonOpinion from: Houston, Texas
August 01, 2012 11:22 AM
So much for Buddhism being a peaceful religion. I have seen pictures of thousands of dead bodies along with armed Burmese Security forces. It was genocide. And people of Burma should be held accountable. May I remind the Government and people of Burma, there are consequences of Genocide. Just ask the Serbs. You can run but you cannot hide.
In Response

by: Lynn from: UK
August 02, 2012 7:34 AM
I have seen so many pictures of innocent people dead bodies all over the world regardless of their religion. Yes that sadden me too. Do you see the point? show me what you seen hopefully I can describe their religion by looking at their dead bodies!

Any rioters or convicts must face justice regardless of their religion.

by: Nik from: US
July 31, 2012 2:29 PM
Burma must allow international journalists, observers and aid agencies clear and unobstructed access to the victims of the riots. It is obvious that Burma's government, military and Buddhist majority are all biased and ruthless against the Rohingya minority to such an extent that they have stripped the Rohingyas of the citizenship of their own country and use it severely persecute their population. They can not trusted in doing justice to the Rohingya people. UN teams have to deployed in Burma to not systematic ethnic cleaning.
In Response

by: almoros from: Cameroon
August 01, 2012 10:44 AM
God bless Burma with great love, unity and peace! Nations and religions have ever been the flying birds crossing continents without passwords and traveling papers, it has been the colonization that created those uncivilised and unhumanbeings cultures! Please, Burma nation don't worship those colonized borders and ever be watching your rainbow colours which from white, brown and mixed, Burma is a heterogenous nation with bright history and no nation without crises and I'm sure will bravely bypass it soon!
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 01, 2012 12:44 AM
Don't be too narrowed minded. Tell that first to Isareli people taking over Palestine territory, Russia in Chechen region, China and Tibet, and Australia and aboriginal, and many more. Myanmar isn't the only country with that kind of problem. Those people are claiming our historical land as theirs just because they lived there for a couple of generations?
For examples; there are millions of illegals in US. Some of them for generations. Just because they live there, would you give them citizenship and curve out part of your country to them?
Go and ask a Rohingya in Bangladesh if they considered themselves to be a Rohingya? They will just say that they are just a muslim from Burma. Rohingyas are political term created during British rule as history as proven and those are just Bangli people in Burma. They should even thank Myanmar for giving them shelter and the past government had created villages for them so that they got a space to live.
In Response

by: Win Naung from: Myanmar
July 31, 2012 11:49 PM
Have you went and looked around the details of what's happening there? I agreed that the management of Burmese government who is managing on that conflict is very weak.
I would like to ask you if there are 800,000 Muslim peoples are trying to get a separate country like Pakistan and India, how will you solve?
We have foreseen the condition of our country like India. Shell we give them our region as Rohinya country? If you were a Burmese, will you give them? So why is Russia
fighting with Chechen peoples?
We Burmese would not agree and never accept on ethinic cleaning. But we haven't set that Rohingya as our ethnic in Burma. How can you say ethinic cleaning if they were not our ethnic?

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