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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs