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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Paul Nevinson from: USA
    August 10, 2012 9:31 AM
    ...only a handful killed but the violence has misplaced 60,000???????? Must be more, definately more killed if the displacement is that high.
    In Response

    by: MayH from: USA
    August 27, 2012 4:17 PM
    Yes, 60,000 misplaced because that is accumulations of over years. This region has long history of tension. The recent communal conflict has created casualty of handful on both sides - that is the truth. You will find thousands figures/fake photos only from Pakistan news sources and blogs - which are trying to make this conflict into Jihad. While I have sympathy for normal Rohingya people, I do not appreciate their leaders' methods of lying and propaganda about their fake history and casualty numbers.Please be aware that their leaders are living comfortably abroad like in UK and getting donations and support, working together with taliban. Pity that this is the kind of tactic they adopt. Won't be getting any thing from Burma soon since they had made wars before to get Islamic state out of Arakan land in the past killing many Arkanese. To simply put, its like 1000 times problem of Maxico problem in US - but with arms and extremism involved in addition to population boom ( 1 Rohingya man has 4 wives and 28 children - and they will say to outside world that they don't have rights to marriage!)
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 10, 2012 10:24 AM
    Mr Paul

    no govt would acknowledge the wrong doings

    please see the videos avaliable on you tube
         

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora