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 London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora