News / Asia

UN Official Says Muslims Targeted in Burma

Vijay Nambiar (r) U.N. Secretary General's Special adviser on Burma, talks to journalists after he visited refugee camps in Meikhtila, Mandalay division, about 550 kilometers (340 miles) north of Rangoon, March 24, 2013.
Vijay Nambiar (r) U.N. Secretary General's Special adviser on Burma, talks to journalists after he visited refugee camps in Meikhtila, Mandalay division, about 550 kilometers (340 miles) north of Rangoon, March 24, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations' top official for Burma said Tuesday that recent sectarian violence in the central part of the country was “clearly targeted” against Muslim communities in the mostly Buddhist nation.  

Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. secretary-general’s Special Adviser on Burma, or Myanmar, as it is also known, just finished a short visit to the country where he met with officials and victims of the recent violence.

Speaking to reporters in New York via telephone from Thailand, Nambiar said he visited shelters where about 9,000 displaced persons - mostly Muslims - are staying after their homes were attacked and dozens were killed in the central city of Meikhtila.  Nambiar said the attacks were carried out with near “brutal efficiency.”

“The people were traumatized - the people who were in the shelters," said Nambiar. "But one thing I noticed was, it had taken them so much by surprise, they had lived for generations together with their Buddhist neighbors and they found it very difficult to understand how this could have happened.”

He said most of the victims still want to return home.  He added that in meetings with government officials, they suggested they would try to provide some sort of compensation to the victims.

The violence began last week with an argument between a Muslim gold shop owner and a Buddhist customer in Meikhtila that escalated into street fighting and looting by angry Buddhist mobs.

Nambiar said it is important that the perpetrators are caught and punished.

“At present the authorities have said they have around 23 persons who were actually apprehended, who were actually caught, and they are in the process of making inquiries to find out who else has been involved," he said. "When I met with the president [Thein Sein] yesterday, he was very firm in saying that firm action will be taken against them and that firm action will also be taken to prevent the spread of such attacks elsewhere.”

But despite those promises, Nambiar said there are disturbing reports of sectarian attacks in other parts of the country.

The U.N. secretary-general’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has also expressed his concern about the communal violence.  In a statement Tuesday, he urged the government to promote reconciliation and tolerance and to take measures to prevent an escalation.

On Friday, President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Meiktila and nearby townships south of Mandalay, asking the army to help stop the violence.  

The anti-Muslim rioting follows communal violence last year in western Rakhine state.  Fighting between Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists left close to 200 people dead and 120,000 displaced, the vast majority of them stateless Rohingya Muslims.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
March 26, 2013 9:50 PM
from the best of my knowledge that Buddhist is very peaceful religion. from what I know about Islam. I believe Muslim are causing problem then cry as usual and blame buddhist

In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
March 27, 2013 2:33 PM
to response to fahim
Islam is a religion of peace. is that a joke. in fact people killed with name of Islam is more than people killed in WW! and WW2

In Response

by: Arakan from: Burma
March 27, 2013 3:13 AM
you have no idea of what's taking place there. The Rohingya Muslim people have been suffering a brutal oppressive genocide for decades. They've been living there for centuries. It's only since the rise of militant Buddhism that there's been a rise in tensions. The Burmese Buddhists see the Muslim Rohingya as a lower caste of human being due to their colour and racial / ethnic origin, They refer to them as kalaar and Indian. Irony is that Gautama Buddha was an Indian and Buddhist holy texts are written in Sanskrit.

In Response

by: Fahim from: india
March 27, 2013 3:02 AM
i don't know who you are. you mentioned your name like you are a muslim,whether u r a muslim or something else. i wanna let u know that islam is the only religion of peace.The name itself saying peace and don't blame anyone without having any knowledge.Ok first go there and find what's the truth...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid