News / Asia

UN Unveils New Plan to Tackle Unrest in Burma

Burmeese displaced by  recent violence carry their belongings as they arrive by boats to Thaechaung refugee camp, outside of Sittwe (formerly Akyab), the capital of Rakhine State, October 28, 2012.
Burmeese displaced by recent violence carry their belongings as they arrive by boats to Thaechaung refugee camp, outside of Sittwe (formerly Akyab), the capital of Rakhine State, October 28, 2012.
VOA News
The United Nations on Wednesday announced a revised plan for addressing the humanitarian crisis in Burma's western Rakhine state, after the nation's president last week pledged to take action on behalf of those affected by the region's ethnic sectarian conflict.  

The U.N. announced a significant increase in aid money needed for Rakhine state after renewed violence broke out there last month between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. That revised plan requires $67.6 million to provide critical assistance for one year for 115,000 people displaced by the clashes. The U.N. said it has only received about $27 million so far.

Until now, the government has directed the humanitarian response. Border Affairs Minister Thein Htay has been responsible for security in Rakhine state, and he launched the plan in Rangoon on Wednesday. He said security forces have done their best to enforce the rule of law.

After Rakhine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder SegregationAfter Rakhine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder Segregation
After Rakhine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder Segregation
After Rakhine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder Segregation
"And also we have some units for special investigations to discover the instigation elements which will cause further violence, and in the meantime you have the activities of search and raids of the weapons," Htay said.

Violence between the Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine state first broke out in June, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency. The disturbances have left at least 170 people dead.  

Most of the displaced are the Rohingya, the stateless Muslim minority considered one of the world's most persecuted people. Thousands of Rohingya have fled Burma by boat, with uncertain destinations.

Humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders have had to shut down operations in the affected areas, partially for the safety of their staff.  United Nations resident coordinator Ashok Nigam recently visited Rakhine state for a rapid needs assessment, and emphasized that the U.N. has been impartial thus far in addressing the needs of affected people.

US President Barack Obama (R) waves as he embraces Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi after addressing members of the media at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, November 19, 2012.US President Barack Obama (R) waves as he embraces Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi after addressing members of the media at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, November 19, 2012.
US President Barack Obama (R) waves as he embraces Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi after addressing members of the media at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, November 19, 2012.
US President Barack Obama (R) waves as he embraces Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi after addressing members of the media at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, November 19, 2012.
"We believe there are people of both communities who are in need, but we have to prioritize the resources that we get in order to try and assure that the people who have the greatest need in some of these areas are addressed first," said Nigam.

International rights groups have condemned the government for not taking action to stop the violence, and not allowing unfettered access for humanitarian aid.

During his visit to Burma, U.S. President Barack Obama called for more attention to the situation and for the government to push for national reconciliation.

The situation has sparked added scrutiny of a government that otherwise is drawing international praise for its political and economic opening.

Because Burma tightly controls reporting by foreign correspondents, VOA is withholding the names of the reporters involved in this story to protect their identity and ensure their ability to continue reporting from the region.

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Comment Sorting
by: Dayal Chakma from: CHT, Bangladesh
November 24, 2012 8:49 PM
No plan of UN will succeed as long as Bangladesh tries to capture land from its neighbores by infiltration. If UN is sincere in resolving the crisis in Rakhine, it should relocate the Bengali immigrants to Bangladesh or other Muslim countries sympathetic to them.

by: lstmohican from: USA
November 23, 2012 11:30 AM
“The United Nations on Wednesday announced a revised plan…requiring 67.6 million US dollar”. But what is the plan?? One source indicate that it will involve changing peoples prejudices, promoting, creating jobs, and birth control. Lofty goals - but is dead on arrival (DOA) as they do not address the root cause of the problems.

1) This plan does not deal with the continuous illegal immigration from Bangladesh through the porous border and as stated repeated by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Creating jobs and opportunities in Rakhine state will only attract more illegal immigration.

2) This plan does not address the well armed and well funded Islamic Rohingya Terrorists with their training camps in neighboring Bangladesh and their connections to other worldwide Islamic Terrorist organizations such as Taliban and Haqqani Network. The security of indigenous Rakhine and Myanmar is at stake without addressing this key issue. Rohingya Terrorists continue to terrorize the whole country side at the same time pretending to be innocent victims for western media. They are so brazen in their attacks that just last week the Rohingya Terrorists abducted three Myanmar soldiers, and only one of the bodies of the soldier was found terribly mutilated.

3) This plan does not address the overpopulation and the need for birth control in Bangladesh. With the highest population density in the world ( over 1,000 / sq km) and abject poverty, poor and educated Bangladeshis have literally been legally and illegally streaming out of the country, with a whole lot of them settling in Rakhine with very sparse population. Though there are also indigenous Rakhine people in Bangladesh because at its height in the 16th and 17th century the Rakhine Kingdom extended westward as far as Dhaka the current capital of Bangladesh, no Rakhine has migrated from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent times.

4) On the other hand, Rakhine population has now been trimmed to 3 million people after suffering genocide after genocide first at the hands of Bamahs (majority population in Myanmar) in 1784 and subsequently from the Islamic Rohingya Terrorists from 1942 onwards. The Islamic Rohingya Terrorists have consistently used rape, murder and torching of villages as method of terror. This the same tactics used by the Pakistan army and their sympathizers in Bangladesh during 1970 and 1971 Bangladesh independence war, when 10 million Bangladeshis sought refuge in neighboring countries including Rakhine state on Myanmar

4) This plan was developed without the consultation of indigenous Rakhine people. They are voiceless with apathy from western media and international organizations as their history is being re-written and reshaped by outsiders. As far as indigenous Rakhine people are concerned, their aspirations may not necessary align with those of Myanmar President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as they are not indigenous Rakhine, and particularly after President Thein Sein misspoke about allowing Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a source of funding and support for Islamic Rohingya Terrorists, set-up office in Myanmar.
5) The aspirations of the indigenous Rakhine people are to live in peace according to the principles of Buddhism. Unlike other people associated with their religion, indigenous Rakhine people have been practicing Buddhism in their ancient homeland since the time of Buddha. However, compassion amongst indigenous Rakhine should not be a pretext for invasion and genocide by Islamic Rohingya Terrorists. Therefore, the 3 million indigenous Rakhine should have the right to defend themselves against well armed, well connected and well funded + 300 million Islamic worldwide terrorists. The only way this can be accomplished is by Rakhinsation of Rakhine state within Myanmar.
In Response

by: Tina from: UK
November 26, 2012 7:41 AM
Istmo- you are talking rubbish.

1. There is no evidence of migration from Bengladesh to Burma. Infact Burmese Muslims are running out of Burma.
2. No report of Burmese soldiers killed by Muslims. Burmese government would have reported it.

You can't say things without evidence. Get you facts right. Who says OIC is terrorists.

Below is some history lesson for you!

The Kingdom of Mrauk-U was the kingdom that ruled Arakan from 1429 to 1785.[1]

King Narameikhla (1404-1434), or Min Saw Mon, ruler of the Kingdom of Mrauk U in the early 15th century, after 24 years of exile in Bengal, regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.[2] Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognized his sovoreignity over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles, despite being Buddhists, and legalized the use of Islamic coins from Bengal within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan remained subordinate to Bengal up until 1531.[2]

Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles.[3] The kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers, despite remaining Buddhist. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration.[4] From 1531-1629, Portuguese pirates operated from havens along the coast of the kingdom and brought slaves in from Bengal to the kingdom. The Bengali Muslim population thus increased in the 17th century, as they were employed in a variety of workforces in Arakan. Some of them worked as Arabic, Bengali, and Persian scribes in the Arakanese courts, which, despite remaining mostly Buddhist, adopted Islamic fashions from the neighbouring Sultanate of Bengal.

by: Paris Tun from: Myanmar
November 22, 2012 4:07 AM
Hopefully, voa reporters will be able to come to our country freely and gather the news as they please. One day, of course, Our gov is changing its image aggressively, :) so not for long, i know , my hope will be fulfilled. :)

by: Aungzayya from: USA
November 22, 2012 3:16 AM
The words for expressing Illegal Bangalis and expressing about the rights for Illegal Bangalis are too much and from one side . Why medias are only talking the right of Those illegal Bangalis? Where is the rights of Host people Rakhine? Illegal Bangalis abused the regional traditional and national laws and insulted the native host people and this problem occured , same as in India too. Please fairly express about the rights for insulted host people. Burma is suffering from the insulting of Muslims, and National reconcialiation and Democratization had been braked. Actually They are a kind of National Enemy who doesn't want Burma to be developed.
In Response

by: James from: UK
November 22, 2012 2:50 PM
Just because these people are muslims doesn't mean they are Bengalis. They have been living there for years whether the Buddhists majority like them or not. Previous president of Burma General Ne Win denounced the Muslims from citizenship unlawfully in 1982. Now President Thein Sein is racist and doesn't know how to control the country with law and order. Look at Kachin state, innocent people are suffering there too. UK is a Christian country and majority of us are white. We have Burmese Buddhists here too. Do we tell them to go back to Burma because they are not Christians and they are not white?

by: OngZo from: USA
November 21, 2012 9:44 PM
The existence of the Rooinga (English form of Rohingya) people in Arakan (Rakhine) State was historically documented in a late 18th century report published by the British, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton. In his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” Buchanan-Hamilton stated: "I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan" (tap on the right of the pages to page 237-240, This is the unbiased historical evidence that the Rohingya or Rooinga had lived in Arakan (Rakhine) State before 1824, and therefore, they are one of the original races of the Union of Myanmar. Henceforth, it must be noted that the Rohingya ARE NOT Bangalis, who recently illegally penetrated Myanmar after its independence from the UK in 1948, and that the term Rohingya was NOT INVENTED by Bangali immigrants in 1950s. The term Rohingya was used in 1799 by the natives of Arakan, who were of Mohammedan (or Islamic) faith.
In Response

by: Natalia from: London
November 22, 2012 4:01 PM
People migrate from one place to another all the time. It doesn't really matter where you originally from. You call your home where you settle in. There are Polish, Indian, Czech, African and Chinese etc. live in UK and anyone who lives here is treated with respect and all people have equal rights. If Burma wants to have democracy then they shouldn't be racist.
In Response

by: Correction from: USA
November 22, 2012 3:16 PM
British documents showed that there were only 35,000 Mohamedans settlers mostly from Bengal when they took over Arakan in 1825. However, the Muslims now number over 800,000. So where did the 700,000 that we see today came from.

Looking into three page document ( National Archives: Folio 35 on File FCO 15/2041) it shows that

"According to the Bangladesh Ambassador to Burma , in 1975 "there were upward of ½ million Bangalee trespassers in Arakan" and that the Burmese government had "some right" to eject over 500,000 "Bangalee trespassers" as the Ambassador described them - not "Rohingyas". Mr Kaiser subsequently became Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN and was Chairman of the UN Security Council for October 1979."

"During their rule in Burma, the British never used the word "Rohingya" to describe the Muslim population in Arakan. In censuses and reports they were always referred to as "Mohammedans", later as Muslims, which is indeed what they are. There is an isolated reference prior to the British arrival to "Rooinga" by a Scottish doctor, Francis Buchanan, who visited the Court at Amarapura in 1799 where he met a number of Muslims who used to live in "Rohang", the old Arakan Kingdom captured by the Burmans in 1784 and had been transported to Amarapura as part of a compulsory resettlement of population not unusual in those days. An isolated reference is just that: isolated."

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