News / Asia

    Burma: Sectarian Violence Not About Race or Religion

    A man walks through a neighborhood that was burnt in recent violence in Sittwe, June 16, 2012.
    A man walks through a neighborhood that was burnt in recent violence in Sittwe, June 16, 2012.
    VOA News
    Burmese President Thein Sein says the recent deadly communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma's western Rakhine state "has nothing to do with race or religion."

    The president made his comments Thursday while hosting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is in the country to offer aid for the tens of thousands who have been displaced in the conflict.  President Thein Sein says the unrest was ignited by the brutal murder of a girl and the desire for revenge against those who committed the crime.

    Sectarian violence between ethnic Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists has killed dozens since late May, according to official figures. But some rights groups and media reports suggest the figure may be higher.

    President Thein Sein dismissed such speculation in comments carried Friday by the state-controlled New Light of Myanmar, saying he was "disheartened by the hairsplitting of the media." He insisted that only 77 people - 31 Rakhine and 46 Rohingya - have died.

    Before leaving for Burma, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said he had received "conflicting information" regarding casualty figures in Rakhine state, telling reporters he has spoken with religious leaders who say thousands have died.

    The violence broke out in late May after three Muslim men were accused of raping and murdering a young Buddhist woman and 10 Muslims were killed in an apparent revenge attack.

    The issue has prompted a wave of criticism by Muslim-majority nations, some of whom view the conflict as a case of religious persecution against the Rohingya. The Saudi-based Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also urged a probe into the violence.

    Rights groups have also called for Burma to do more to protect the Rohingya, most of whom are denied citizenship. Human Rights Watch said in a recent report that Burmese security forces have committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against the group in the aftermath of the sectarian violence.

    Burma has denied the accusations, saying its security forces acted with restraint after moving quickly to put an end to the riots. It says it is working to provide relief to the 60,000 people left homeless from the conflict.

    President Thein Sein on Thursday welcomed the $50 million aid donation by Turkey. He also said he would welcome a visit by the OIC leaders so they can "witness the reality" in Rakhine.

    The state has seen a heavy police presence since June, when a state of emergency rule was declared to end the violence. Some rights say the conflict threatens to put a damper on the recent political and economic reforms carried out by Burma's nominally civilian government.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Nik from: US
    August 13, 2012 4:07 PM
    It does not matter whether the riots are about 'race or religion'. The fact is the Rohingyas are being singled out by Burma for persecution, killings, rape and other forms of oppression for decades while the west decides to turns a blind eye towards the ethnic cleansing. Burma invaded Arakan (today's Rohine) in 1700s followed by the British who invaded Burma. When British were leaving after WWII Rohingyas asked for freedom from their invaders (Burma) as a result to this day Burma has decided to kill all Rohingyas while keeping their land. Arakan must be made into a free nation independent from Burma. If this can happen to Sudan why not Burma. Or is getting freedom ultimately always about race and religion.
    In Response

    by: md irfan khan from: new delhi india
    August 15, 2012 4:51 PM
    i am agree with this,,,,,,,
    what ever is done in burma with the all public i am not saying about muslim because we only know that who is muslim and who is buddhas or any other cast or religion but what about the little baby who actually don't know about him self what is he.....?
    everybody should know that god is great but not blind....
    be ready all burmas buddhas people because you did wrong and you will get result soon by the god....Inshallah..
    In Response

    by: Hashmat Ali from: Pakistan
    August 14, 2012 3:10 PM
    Nik, a positive point. I strongly agree

    by: afif from: Aceh
    August 12, 2012 10:26 PM
    Hellle Dalailama Hellu Aung San Su Ki where are your voices?

    by: Khin Khin Hlaing from: Myanmar
    August 12, 2012 12:14 PM
    Rakhine leaders gathered poor Rakhine from rural area of each town and from other towns of Rakhine State by showing lot of benefit. These gathered Rakhine people are placed in three different places as refugee; 1 in Myo Ma Kayen Den temple, 2 in Alley Than Kyaw and 3 in Sittwe.

    These gathered Rakhine people are really getting benefits as their leaders committed them. For example, NLD party donated 20 million MMK to those created Rakhine refugees only not to any single Rohingya. It is more then sure that the 50 million US$ donated to Thein Sein by Turkey will go to those Rakhine created refugee only.

    In one hand, those created Rakhine camps are good to show to any external visitors like Turkey foreing minister. On the other hand, the real and entitled Rohingya victims cannot be organized in a place if to do so, the Thein Sein government arrests mass Rohingya people, kills those who try to lead and organize for such matters.

    Thein Sein is welcoming the OIC and saying that the OIC could see the reality of Rakhine State. What is the reallity of Rakhine State? The reallity is; Thousands of Rohingya people are killed by Loontin, police and the hitory lier Rakhine in Sittwee on 9, 10, 11 June 2012 and in Maungdaw on 8,9 June.

    Rakhine Lontin police and Rohingya fight was stopped by military, afterwards the Rohingya like Amir saab, Molvi, INGO workers, UN workers, rich people, educated people and ex political leaders are being arrested by the Thein Sein government up till today.

    If Thein Sein really wants to show the reallity of Rakhine State and really wants to avoid from the fake presentation to the external visitors, the external visitors should be allowed to check some keypoints stated belows;
    1. The simple Rohingya (who is not in Government plan) should able to express their emotional feelings to external visitors freely without any authority person (It is hard to organize but possible).
    2. The family lists of those created Rakhine refugee should be seen by the external visitors and what really was happened in their original native during the time.
    3. The external visitors should see the NRS Rohingya population whether increased or decrease in last 20 years.
    4. Being are provided with national registration family list, some members of the family are cut from the list and why? and so on...

    by: kicca from: Cairo
    August 12, 2012 7:48 AM
    the same speech of President Morsi about violent sectarian clashes in Dahshur 40 km from Cairo, against Copts families.

    by: Michael from: Bangkok
    August 11, 2012 10:09 PM
    I might add that the Pakistanis are doing their best to make this into yet another jihad, as though they need yet another. A Mr. Khalid has launched several "newsletters" written in a way to convince the gullible that terrible crimes are being committed in Burma against Muslimswhich are solely intended to inflame whatever is chosen and the Royhinga problem is now prime. He claims hundreds murdered and their homes burned by the army--sensational claims not substantiated by any legitimate coverage. New jihad ahead! All part of the Moslem global uprising. Check out:
    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C08%5C12%5Cstory_12-8-2012_pg14_2
    In Response

    by: Hashmat Ali from: Pakistan
    August 14, 2012 3:19 PM
    If, US attacks Iraq, that is fine ? if US attacks afghanistan, that is fine, keep in mind the history of these two states and how JIHAD was exploited by US in these two countries.
    Now when Muslims are showing solidarity to their muslim brethren, you have problems with it ?
    just remove the muslim part and imagine for a split second, which I am sure you can be unbiased for this much time, that Humans are showing solidarity to other humans.
    we Pakistanis are helping US and the international forces against extremists and terrorists and you should not call them jihadist or whatever you gave a name to them.
    and yes, if the world is so sane then you should tell the world to stop converting to ISLAM as it is the fastest spreading religion around the world.

    at the end i would recommend and suggest you that please stop thinking in perspective of religion because not a single religion teaches violence and yes I am talking about religions not cults. So please stay unbiased and remain human.

    P.S. before commenting on us Muslims, please do read our SCRIPTURE then say whatever you want.

    by: Anonymous
    August 11, 2012 8:43 PM
    It is not whom you point your finger to, it is how you solve the problems if you do find a way ti solve them.

    by: omair from: mumbai
    August 11, 2012 1:50 AM
    ...this is the politics to finish up muslims or to halt the population of muslims.
    but i ensure that more u try to destroy...
    ALLAH will make more it populated
    In Response

    by: to omair from: usa
    August 12, 2012 3:36 AM
    you are right thank you

    by: Michael Greenwald from: bangkok
    August 10, 2012 9:44 PM
    Apparently president President Thein Sein is not well acquainted with the history of the Rohynga, originally known as the Chittagonians, named after the Indian state of Chittagong from which most of them came. They started drifting into Burma late in the 19th century, driven by over-population/starvation in their country, which was then India (later East Pakistan and now Bangladesh).

    Their incursion vastly increased the population of Arrakan and Sittwe and strained the infrastructure and food supply. They looked like East Indians, did not speak the same language and did not assimilate with the locals who were Buddhists. This failure to assimilate persists today and is a root cause of the problem.

    In 1942 there was a Muslim uprising, followed by 1948 Bengali-Muslims’ Mujahid Insurgency which started after after the central government refused to grant a separate Muslim state in Rhankine Provence. Once the Mujadi rebellion started the armed Bengali-Muslims killed most of the Yakhine Buddhists and destroyed all the Yakhin villages in the Maungdaw-North region.

    Martial Law was declared in 1948 November as the rebellion greatly intensified and the rebels even surrounded the towns of Butheetaung and Baw-li-bazar. During the uprising the Royhinga flew the Pakistani flag and attempted to separate the northern provinces from Burma. The Royhinga used ethnic cleansing as their tool and then occupied the villages of the dispossessed.

    The matter finally came to a head when a British officer was killed after which the Burma Rifles were sent in and insurrection was put down, with considerable killing on both sides. So, the Burmese look upon the Royhinga as invaders and usurpers who refuse to accept Burmese culture, here has been bad blood between the groups ever since.

    The Muslim people seem particularly good at cloaking themselves in the mantel of the belligerent victim but in this case (as is so often the case) there is plenty of blame to go around.

    Read more about it at: http://hlaoo1980.blogspot.com/2012/06/bengali-muslims-mujahid-insurgency-1948.html


    In Response

    by: Conscience from: USA
    August 13, 2012 9:20 PM
    To Mr. Michael Greenwald you forgot one crucial part. Rohingyas were living in Arakan for CENTURIES. Back then it was part of India so it is only normal people get to travel to different state. Bangladesh has different shares of ethnic people who speaks, look and follows a different culture. India is a prime example of different ethnic mix. Complaining about this is like saying, Chinese should get out of Malaysia or Indians from Singapore, even The Mexicans (the native ones) should get out from Texas after Mexican-American war or they will be wiped out from the county by any means necessary. Only difference is that Rohingyas are poor and weak, so they are the sacrificial lambs. Let's not forget THOUSANDS of people are killed already and thousands are on the verge of death. They are in worse condition than a rock and a hard place. If you don't feel anything within your conscience, I don't know what to say. Even a monster admits to wrong doing sometimes.

    To Human from: USA: Seriously I feel sorry for you. Your soul has been so blacken by hatred that you lost your conscience. That torching of train in Gujrat was part of a strategic ethnic cleansing staged by then ruling party. There are still controversies regarding whether or not if the fire was started deliberately or by accident inside the train itself. The politicians, especially Narendra Modi added fueled to the fire to gain political upper hand. If you blindly follow a politicians out of hatred or other means, what makes you so different than a zombie?
    In Response

    by: Human from: USA
    August 12, 2012 10:54 AM
    I agree with Mr. Greenwald's assessment. Regardless of what happened in the 19th Century, the Muslim person should not have raped the Buddhist girl. Muslims in India did the same thing when they torched a rail car full of Hindu pilgrims in the State of Gujarat. Hindus did not tolerate this act of violence so they went after the Muslims for revenge. Eye for an eye (Muslims belive in this). Minister Modi was correct in not stopping the communal violence because if the act of agression was not taken care of, then there would be more violence. It at least put these Muslims in their place. If they do not like it in India or Burma, then go to Saudi Arabia or some other dictatorship country.

    I am for the Buddhist people of Burma. These people are peaceful and the Muslims brings the worst out of this country.

    by: Human from: india
    August 10, 2012 7:52 PM
    No government would accept their wrong doings. That's why it's called politics.
    However, This absurd statements can't hide the truth. Every one is well aware of the facts that the government has played the role of a spectator and the militay as the demolisher.
    Not sure whether the act was aganist Rohingyas or Muslims
    but in any ways killings thousands of people including childrens and women cannot be justified.
    I even doubt about the money send for aid but still hope it reaches to the people that got affected by this cruel gesture of humanity.

    by: Anonymus from: India
    August 10, 2012 1:20 PM
    I was told that Muslims were killed in thousands! Hope that's not true!
    In Response

    by: irfan from: delhi
    August 15, 2012 5:22 PM
    if it has been happened with hindus then what will india act....


    (why india, bangladesh, pakistan are silence,,,,,?) i hope the humanity is died only the religion is alive..... shame on it to all muslim and burmas nearby countrys
    In Response

    by: Human from: Canada
    August 11, 2012 7:28 PM
    of course it could be true.. in Srebrenica (bosnia) 8700+ people were killed within 3 days.
    In Response

    by: Bluegrass Picker from: Afula
    August 11, 2012 12:14 PM
    killing "thousands" takes more time than that. Look how long it took to reach the casulty figures in Syria; that was using heavy military weapons like artillery and tanks and rockets. You cannot hide thousands of bodies. Where are they all?
    In Response

    by: jocole from: Ragoon
    August 11, 2012 8:01 AM
    Yes, .. really did not true.
    In Response

    by: sandeep from: chand
    August 10, 2012 8:14 PM
    It is right........ .Around 30000 muslims killed...
    In Response

    by: Pyi Chit from: UK
    August 10, 2012 7:23 PM
    Can you believe fabricated stories of 20, 000 dead? Without the names of even ten victims listed?
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora