News / Asia

Burma Rejects UN Criticism of Riot Response

People shift through damaged buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state, western Burma, June 16, 2012.
People shift through damaged buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state, western Burma, June 16, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Burmese officials have told a visiting U.N. human rights expert that security forces exercised "maximum restraint" in responding to deadly riots between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas in the country's west last month.

In a statement Monday, the Burmese foreign ministry said it "strongly rejects" accusations that authorities engaged in abuses and excessive force to end the violence that killed more than 70 people in Rakhine state. Burmese officials discussed the situation in Rakhine with U.N. expert Tomas Ojea Quintana on Monday.

Last week, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the Burmese government's response to the communal violence "may have turned into a crackdown targeting Muslims, in particular members of the Rohingya community."

Earlier this month, London-based rights group Amnesty International also said it has "credible reports" of Rakhine Buddhists and security forces targeting Rohingyas and other Rakhine Muslims with "physical abuse, rape, destruction of property and unlawful killings."

The Burmese foreign ministry said it "totally rejects" what it calls "attempts by some quarters to politicize and internationalize this situation as a religious issue." It said Burma is a multi-religious country where people of different faiths have lived together in peace for centuries.

Quintana said he plans to visit Rakhine on Tuesday.

The UNHCR has said last month's riots displaced about 80,000 people, with most living in camps or with host families in nearby villages. The Burmese government has said most of the refugees are Muslims.

The riots began after the rape and murder of a local Buddhist woman on May 28 and a subsequent revenge attack by Buddhists who killed 10 Muslims on June 3. 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.

Also Monday, Quintana visited Rangoon's Insein Prison to meet with political prisoners, including Wai Phyo Aung, who is suffering from cancer. The detainee's wife Ma Htay Htay attended the meeting and said the U.N. expert promised to help.

“He said he has been calling for the release [of political prisoners] along with [the] international community, and told us that he will push further for the release of my husband as he is terminally ill," she said. "He also pledges that he will try to let the international community know how my husband’s health -- liver cancer and paralysis --  has deteriorated from a lack of proper medical care.”

Burma has released hundreds of political prisoners since last year, when a civilian government with close ties to the military came to power, ending decades of harsh military rule. But some rights groups say hundreds of prisoners-of-conscience remain in government detention and should be freed.

- VOA Burmese Service's Aye Aye Mar 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

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: charlie from: california
July 30, 2012 9:49 PM
While I often side with Muslims against Israel I have a problem with Bengals from Muslim and dangerously overcrowded Bangla Desh becoming the victims just because the Burmese want them to go back where they come from. They've been in Burma all the way back to the beginning of the twentieth century, a few of them, but that doesn't make them Burmese. Muslims are intolerant of other faiths and cultures. There is no wrong in my book in the natives of Assam, or a part of it not wanting to be over run by foriegners. The fact that Assam is part of India doesn't change that equation. Burma for the Burmese and Bengal in India and Bangla Desh for the Bengals. Or do we want hordes of people to over run every happily not over populated country on the planet? Of course the USA seems not to have a problem with that and we are to 300 million now. I'm agin' it!


by: Anonymous
July 30, 2012 3:18 PM
Holly war, religious war should be stopped at soonest and most effective means available or we are going to have world-wide problems.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid