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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid