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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs