News / Asia

    Burma’s Rakhine State Still in Turmoil

    Policemen walk towards burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    Policemen walk towards burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    BANGKOK - Continuing tension in Burma’s Rakhine state has observers worried the ethnic and sectarian conflict could spread. 
     
    Sectarian violence continues in Sittwe, Burma, where ethnic Rakhine residents told VOA by phone that fires are still burning, destroying homes and shops as ethnic Rohingya flee riot police.
     
    In Maungdaw, residents reported mostly peaceful streets, and 400 kilometers away in Rangoon, a small mob of monks was quickly dispersed by police at Sule Pagoda.
     
    The violence has led to fears that conflict could re-ignite old ethnic feuds.

    • Muslims women and children from villages gather before being relocated to secure areas in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012.
    • Bangladeshi Border Guard soldiers keep watch at a wharf in Taknaf, Bangladesh, June 12, 2012.
    • Sittwe residents flee blazing homes as security forces struggle to contain deadly ethnic and religious violence, June 12, 2012.
    • A Rohingya protester cries as he holds a placard during a rally to call for an end to the ongoing unrest and violence in Burma's Rakhine State, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 12, 2012.
    • Security forces try to restore order in Rakhine state, Burma, after a wave of deadly religious violence, as the United Nations evacuated foreign workers, June 11, 2012.
    • Muslim Rohingya people on a boat cross the river Naf, from Burma into Teknaf, Bangladesh, June 11, 2012.
    • Local residents push a trishaw vehicle carrying their belongings in a village in Sittwe, where sectarian violence is impacting on the local population, June 11, 2012.
    • Rohingya protesters gather in front of a U.N. regional office in Bangkok, Thailand, to call for an end to the ongoing unrest and violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, June 11, 2012.
    • Ethnic Rakhine people get water from a firefighter truck to extinguish fire set to their houses during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe, June 10, 2012.
    • Policemen move towards burning houses during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe, June 10, 2012.
    • Rohingya men are seen among houses set on fire during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe, June 10, 2012.
    • Buddhist monks and ethnic Rakhine people hold placards at Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon, Burma, June 10, 2012.
    • An ethnic Rakhine man holds homemade weapons as he walks in front of houses that were burnt during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe, June 10, 2012.

    Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson says there are reports riot police deployed to the region are favoring the ethnic Rakhine over the Rohingya.  He says the government must be more even-handed in resolving the problem.
     
    "Certainly it has the potential to significantly tarnish the reformist credentials of this government if they are not able to resolve this very serious sectarian violence,” said Robertson.
     
    Robertson says that with Burma’s many different ethnic groups, the country’s future depends on becoming a democratic, progressive, multi-ethnic state.
     
    “There are just too many ethnic groups living close together for this kind of violence between two ethnic groups to be allowed," he said. "Because unfortunately it will empower extremists who have grievances against other ethnic groups, that is the danger here."
     
    Although the Rakhine ethnic group has suffered oppression at the hands of the government for decades, domestic media coverage of the riots has been tilted against the Rohingya population.  State-backed media and private news outlets have reported on the conflict using derogatory terms for Rohingya.
     
    Speaking from London, Rohingya activist and scholar Knurl Islam says there is long history of trying to exclude the Rohingya in Rakhine.
     
    "We are two communities.  We have been living together for a long time, we are still living together," said Islam. "We have to live together, we know it.  But they do not want Muslims, they say we are illegal immigrants, we have nothing to do in their country."

    Many Rakhine consider the Rohingya relative newcomers from Bangladesh who do not qualify for Burmese citizenship.  

    A member of the Rakhine Nationalities Development political party, Hula Saw, says Rohingya have long sought rights they do not deserve.
     
    “We have to give them their due human rights, but we do not accept them as having nationality rights,” said Saw.
     
    As violence continues, many Rohingya are reported to be fleeing the state by boat and by land.  Bangladesh has not opened its borders to those fleeing the conflict.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Khine from: Yangon
    July 06, 2012 6:49 AM
    International Community must strongly denounce so-called Rohingya Bengali committing heinous crimes of terrorising, killing, looting and burning villages of Buddhist BurmeseArakanese”. So-called Rohingya Bengali Muslims are allegedly linked with Islamist Terrorists around the world including Taliban. These so-called Rohingya are Bengali illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. So-called Rohingya Bengali Muslims had massacre tens of thousands of Burmese Buddhist Arakanese people in the past. With the support of the global networks of extremist Islamic terrorists, (Bangladesh and Pakistan in the past and may be so far), and the Islamic world, these so-called Rohingya Bengali Muslims hold up the arms fighting against Burmese central government demanding for a separate Islamic state. In western Burma, in Maung-Daw Township where Burma shares the border with Bangladesh, got 98% population are Bengali Muslims. Rohingya Bengali Muslims are targeting peaceful Burmese Arakanese Buddhist minority in Maung-Daw by setting fire on Buddhist Arakanese Burmese villages, Buddhist houses and Buddhist monasteries. All Burmese Buddhist Arakanese have to flee from the attack of so-called Rohingya Bengali Muslims’ atrocities. So far more than 30 villages have been burnt down to ashes and so-called Rohingya Muslim Bengalis are targeting all non-Bengalis. We denounce these terrorists’ acts and we call for international community to denounce these terrorist acts of so-called Rohingya Muslim Bengali.

    by: michael from: Australia
    June 16, 2012 4:44 AM
    As a burmese,I'm shame for our government,lack of protecting Burma territory & their citizen.we have had lost one island government knew that,we will loose intire country if not acting this time,I want to suggest government to deploy immigration,police&troops to Rakhine state to protect our border,we need to protect our border,seriously

    by: rubel from: bangladesh
    June 13, 2012 11:28 PM
    hey, world-mass we all know that the buddish in the world r a peaceful nation but now we watch it is a great worst and furious nation , in my own witness a great number of ROHYNGA has come to BANGLADESH from BURMA being serious injure and at least 150 ROHYNGA have been killed by RAKHAIN in the presence of BURMA's state force and many houses of ROHYNGA have been burnt.IS IT HUMANITY??????????

    by: Ja from: Kitchener
    June 13, 2012 9:51 AM
    Joint Press Release
    9th June 2012
    APPEAL FOR PEACEFUL CO-EXISTANCE IN ARAKAN
    We, the Rohingya organisations express our deep concern over the ongoing grave situation in Arakan causing great consternation to the people. It appears that the communal tension arising out of the lack of rule of law in Arakan was engineered by the regime and its local Arakan State apparatus. This was further evident by the gunning down of Rohingya Muslims who were peacefully marching for a prayer for those Muslim pilgrims cruelly killed by Rakhine terrorists in Taunggup on 3 June 2012.

    However, it is deplorable that there have been killing of innocent people, destruction of houses and properties from both sides which could be well prevented by the government. At least 100 innocent Rohingyas were believed to have been killed while many others injured. Never the less, the government of U Thein Sein is fully responsible for the untoward situation. We demand that the government immediately constitutes an independent and impartial inquiry commission to investigate the case and bring the culprits to justice.








    by: Anonymous
    June 12, 2012 11:19 AM
    I think anyone dealing with current issues like this is also looking for ways to handle their future, finances, and even retirement in successful ways. One interesting story I found today that talked about this issue is an intriguing write-up about a wealthy boss that decided to do something different with his career. He left Newmont Mining, a $6.5B company, to join a tiny mining company. Very inspiring story that dovetails many of the themes here, I figured you might like it:
    http://www.trefis.com/stock/fnv/articles/125627/why-a-billion-dollar-executive-is-risking-his-career-on-an-abandoned-mine-in-nevada/2012-06-11

    by: Son of Burma
    June 12, 2012 10:51 AM
    Human Rights Watch: With all due respect, please understand that the government authorities are trying to protect TRUE ethnic Rakhines from Rohingya terrorists. We will talk about "even-handedness" in resolving ethnic issues when Gaza Strip is freed, Chechnya is liberated and Guantanamo is shutdown.
    "Like all other nations, we have minority problems. But they are our problems, not yours." - Mahatma Gandhi.

    by: winthan from: USA
    June 12, 2012 10:13 AM
    Actually, there is no “Rohingya” Muslims in Arakan State; the Burmese people never recognized them as legal residents in Burma. Corrupted Burmese Government took bribery from those illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and issued Burmese ID cards. Back in 1970, they also issued those illegal immigrants to the right to vote for U Nu’s Presidential election (who won). After his election win, the corrupted government allowed more illegal immigrants to come in. Then those illegal immigrants gave money to government in-exchange for Burmese ID cards. Those illegal Muslims are trying to make so called name “Rohingya”, and they are now trying to demand the land and they are now destroying the land of Arakan.

    by: John Dee from: USA
    June 12, 2012 7:11 AM
    Violent Buddhists? That's a new one...

    by: cbritt from: canada
    June 12, 2012 7:10 AM
    Looks like a strategic place to have a US-NATO base right on the border of China. Hmmmmm

    "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday she is deeply concerned about the situation. She is calling for a transparent investigation into the violence and says the situation underscores the need for "serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Burma."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora