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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs