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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid