News / Asia

UN Envoy Visits Burma’s Stricken Rakhine State

Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. envoy to Burma, leaves Sittwe Airport in Burma's Rakhine state, June 14, 2012. Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. envoy to Burma, leaves Sittwe Airport in Burma's Rakhine state, June 14, 2012.
x
Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. envoy to Burma, leaves Sittwe Airport in Burma's Rakhine state, June 14, 2012.
Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. envoy to Burma, leaves Sittwe Airport in Burma's Rakhine state, June 14, 2012.
Danielle Bernstein
BANKGOK - The U.N.’s special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, returned Thursday from a visit to Burma's western Rakhine state, where sectarian violence has killed 21 people and destroyed scores of homes.

Nambiar said he spoke with people caught up in the violence who are still "in a state of shock," and unwilling to return to their homes.  There has been widespread violence in the area recently between Buddhists and Muslims, who are members of the ethnic minority known as the Rohingya. 
 
Speaking to VOA by phone from the Burmese capital, Rangoon, he said the city of Maungdaw, where the conflict erupted, is now largely calm, but that the situation in the state's capital Sittwe is still tenuous and he was unable to visit some areas. Nambiar confirmed that 21 people died in the fighting.
 
Nambiar praised both the Border Affairs minister who traveled with him, and President Thein Sein, who responded by sending in the military to bring the situation under control, and declaring a state of emergency he described as "prompt, firm, and sensitive."
 
"This is an issue which has the potential of impacting on the entire reform process and requires to be handled very sensitively and in line with the international norms of international conduct," he said.
 
Burmese President Thein Sein said he is committed to equal justice and the rule of law in dealing with the aftermath of the conflict, he added.
 
Rohingya have long been viewed by the government and most Burmese as immigrants who are not entitled to citizenship or other benefits of the state. The recent fighting has led to a rash of inflamed rhetoric on websites and in domestic media coverage against Rohingya.

Violence broke out on June 3 when a mob of Buddhists in Rakhine allegedly attacked a bus and killed 10 Rohingya passengers in apparent retaliation for an earlier rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, allegedly by three Rohingya.
 
It will take time to address the longstanding ethnic and sectarian tensions, said Nambiar.
 
"I think increasingly everybody is conscious of the need to move away from such kind of ethnic stereotypes and characterizations of this nature because they realize that that is harmful to the entire project of reform," he said. "And I think while it is true that the messages that are being purveyed by being stressed by the top leadership need to filter down to the lower levels and there is still a lot of work to be done."
 
U.N. refugee agency official Preeta Law, a deputy representative in Burma, warned the fighting could have an impact on the effort to resettle Rohingya refugees now living in camps across the border in Bangladesh. "Of course in a situation of this kind of violence that's happened right now, in the immediate term, this would not be something that we would be looking at at this time," Law said.
 
Boats carrying women and children fleeing the violence have been turned back by the Bangladeshi government, despite the agency's plea to keep their border open.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid