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.
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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More