News / Asia

Unrest in Burma Clouds View of Government Reforms

VOA News
After a second round of communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims broke out in Burma's Rakhine state last month, there are worries that the instability could spread. Observers say the conflict threatens the government's heralded political and economic reforms.

The United Nations says there are now 110,000 people who have been displaced by fighting in Rakhine state since violence first started in June.

Aid groups are still scrambling to treat the wounded and displaced but their workers say they continue to face intimidation and threats for aiding those in need.
United Nations authorities were granted access in late October to the affected areas to assess the situation. Ashok Nigam is the Resident Coordinator of the local U.N. mission.

"They were certainly very fearful and they were also very uncertain of what their future was, so we have tried to calm them down and immediate for these people is also the humanitarian assistance, but also the government wants to keep the two communities apart," said Nigam.
Thousands of Rohingya have now fled Burma by boat, with uncertain destinations. Some analysts say the government's inadequate response to the violence calls into question its commitment to reform, particularly in ethnic areas. 

"The ethnic minority areas are certainly lagging behind in terms of the effects of the reform effort and the most recent violence in Rakhine state is leapfrogging that situation to the fore it no longer allows the government to ignore or to put off legal reform in the ethnic minority areas," said human rights lawyer Ben Zawacki. 

In Rakhine’s burnt-out villages, tensions are still running high. Muslims across the country cancelled Eid celebrations last week. There are worries that the security forces deployed to protect the Rohingya are not sufficient, says Abu Taher, a Rohingya politician.

"In the whole country there is no security for the Muslim communities to celebrate Eid. That's why that celebration was suspended, because a lack of security," he said.

In the heart of one of Rangoon’s main Muslim neighborhoods, far from the violence in Rakhine state, there are few outwards signs of religious tensions.

But while daily prayers continue at the 150-year-old Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, there are still worries among Muslims who are not ethnic Rohingyas. They say they are still worried about religious tensions, and concerned they could be targeted by Buddhist monks who worship at the pagoda next door.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Maung Lwin from: Canada
November 06, 2012 6:22 PM
Please CNN, We don't have Bangalis so called Rohingya in Our Ethnic Group. They are "Illegal Immigrant and Illegal Occupy in Our Country". I hope you have to learn "Our History" and "The root of Problem". They are Lair. I hope you already learned about "Islam and Islamist".
Also Please You have to learn about "Buddhist Monk" who never kill any kinds of creature.
In Future, You have to take responsible for making wrong news.
Thank you.
In Response

by: mandyswe from: USA
November 07, 2012 10:48 AM
Maung Lwin,
How much time have you spend reading history on Arakan region? As for your " Buddhist Monk never kills", please stop making the world laugh at you. YOU need to take responsibility for what you say in this information age.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs