News / Asia

    Dispute Continues Over Death Reports in Western Burma

    FILE - Soldiers keep watch as they sit in a vehicle outside of Thandwe in Rakhine state Oct. 3, 2013.FILE - Soldiers keep watch as they sit in a vehicle outside of Thandwe in Rakhine state Oct. 3, 2013.
    x
    FILE - Soldiers keep watch as they sit in a vehicle outside of Thandwe in Rakhine state Oct. 3, 2013.
    FILE - Soldiers keep watch as they sit in a vehicle outside of Thandwe in Rakhine state Oct. 3, 2013.
    Gabrielle Paluch
    The Burmese government continues to reject reports that at least 24 people were killed in a violent incident involving ethnic minority Rohingyas in the country’s remote northwest earlier this month. Rights groups and news agencies have reported scores of Rohingya died in a crackdown by security forces that drew concern from the U.S. Embassy.

    Details remain unclear about an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of January 14. Locals say they were unfairly targeted by security personnel, and then driven from their homes by a mob. But the government insists that a policeman was kidnapped by the villagers, and then likely killed.

    Since then, rights groups have interviewed people who say as many as 60 people, nearly all of them ethnic Rohingya, died when security forces and ethnic Rakhine villagers retaliated for the kidnapping. The government says the Rohingya are alive but fled their village after the policeman’s death.

    Government's version

    Presidential spokesperson Ye Htut says villagers likely exaggerated the story because they were guilty of killing a police officer.

    "Nobody except the police sergeant [are] missing from in that incident. That's why we are trying to recover the body and find the people who committed that crime.  No civilians from Rakhine or Bengali [Rohingya] are missing from that accident, because police refrained from firing in that mob and they only retreated from the village," said Ye Htut.

    The U.S. and other foreign governments have urged Burmese authorities to investigate the alleged deaths and abuses of the villagers. Ye Htut says they plan to investigate the death of the police sergeant.

    Local member of parliament Shwe Maung told VOA’s Burmese service that he has seen many conflicting reports about what happened, but some indicate that a violent incident and looting did occur. He says he has not been able to travel to the village itself, and is relying on reports from locals.

    He says a group of villagers captured a police officer, U Aung Kyaw Thein, from a patrolling police group.  Then, they beat him and four other policemen escaped. At midnight, he says police came back to the village and searched for the police officer. The next day, a group of Rakhine villagers also came to that village and looted it.

    AP says report accurate

    The Associated Press and other news agencies reported multiple deaths in the incident. Burma’s Ministry of Information later disputed the AP story and said it fears false reports could fuel further violence.

    The Associated Press issued a statement saying it believes the story was reported accurately. It also urged the government to allow better access to the region.

    Like past reports of violence in remote parts of Burma’s Rakhine state, facts have been difficult to confirm because the government restricts access to outsiders.

    Senior researcher on Burma for Human Rights Watch, David Mathieson, told reporters at a news conference in Bangkok Tuesday that the confusion over what happened is a direct result of the government’s policies.

    "They've got a lot to hide. They've been hiding what they've been doing in Maundgaw and Buthitaung for decades," he said. "This is just another sad episode in what we know has been going on for 30 years. They basically lock down those townships and keep people there in such a miserable state that they will leave."

    Mathieson says researchers are convinced that a violent clash did occur, but they still are working to determine what exactly happened and how many people died.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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