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Muslims In Burma's Rakhine State 'abused' - Amnesty

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20 July 2012 Last updated at 13:27 GMT

Muslims in Burma's Rakhine state 'abused' - Amnesty

 

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Many Rohingya have fled Rakhine in the wake of the violence in JuneContinue reading the main story

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Muslims in Burma's western Rakhine state have been subjected to attacks and arbitrary arrests in the weeks since communal violence erupted, Amnesty International says.

 

A state of emergency was declared in Rakhine in June after deadly clashes between Buddhists and Muslims.

 

Since then, hundreds of people have been detained in the areas where Muslim Rohingya people live, a spokesman said.

 

The government has dismissed the allegations as "groundless and biased".

 

Win Myaing, a government spokesman for Rakhine state, told the Associated Press news agency that the claims are "totally opposite of what is happening on the ground", adding that the region was calm.

 

But although communal violence has eased since the unrest in June, violations by the security forces appear to have increased, rights groups say.

 

'Rohingyas beaten'

 

Amnesty accuses Burmese security forces as well as ethnic Rakhine Buddhist residents of assaults, unlawful killings of Muslims and the destruction of property.

 

"Most cases have meant targeted attacks on the minority Rohingya population and they were bearing the brunt of most of that communal violence in June and they continue to bear the lion's share of the violations perpetrated by the state security forces," Amnesty researcher Benjamin Zawacki told the BBC's Viv Marsh.

Continue reading the main story

 

Background: Burma unrest

 

What sparked the violence in June?

The rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman in Rakhine in May set off a chain of deadly religious clashes.

Why was a state of emergency declared?

A state of emergency allows the introduction of martial law, which means the military can take over administrative control of the region.

Who are the Rohingyas?

The United Nations describes Rohingya as a persecuted religious and linguistic minority from western Burma. The Burmese government, on the other hand, says they are relatively recent migrants from the Indian sub-continent. Neighbouring Bangladesh already hosts several hundred thousand refugees from Burma and says it cannot take any more.

Chris Lewa, director of The Arakan Project, which focuses on Rohingyas in the region, also told our correspondent that hundreds of Rohingya Muslims had been arrested, with allegations that some had been beaten and even tortured.

 

"Shortly after the main violence... then we start seeing a new phase of, I would say, state-sanctioned abuses, where especially in Maung Daw... we heard on a daily basis about mass arrests of Rohingya," Ms Lewa told the BBC.

 

Reports from the group's network of sources in the area, mostly Rohingya, also said that authorities allowed Rakhine youth to assault Rohingyas in custody. The group also alleges that Burmese authorities took part in looting of shops and homes belonging to Rohingya.

 

The Burmese authorities denied similar allegations made by Amnesty International.

Some of the Rohingya Muslims arrested were held in connection with violence that erupted in Rakhine on 8 June, the day on which, observers say, violence was largely carried out by Rohingyas. The Arakan Project also says that some Rakhine, particularly those found with weapons, were arrested.

 

It is difficult to verify any of the information provided by such sources, as journalists cannot access the area.

 

Long-standing tension

 

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims flared after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman in May, followed by an attack on a bus carrying Muslims.

 

Communal unrest continued in parts of Maung Daw as Muslims attacked Buddhist homes. Reprisal attacks then targeted Muslim homes and communities. The attacks left many dead and forced thousands of people on both sides to flee their homes.

 

There have been long-standing tensions between Rakhine people, who are Buddhist and make up the majority of the state's population, and Muslims many of whom are Rohingya.

 

Many Rakhine Buddhists have said that much of the violence in June was carried out against them by Rohingya groups. Rohingyas say they have been forced to flee because of the violence.

 

Earlier this month, Burma's President Thein Sein said the "solution" for the Rohingya was deportation or refugee camps.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk...d-asia-18921960

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Burmese Muslims targeted in communal violence, says Amnesty

 

Minority Rohingya population beaten, raped and killed by security forces and Rakhine Buddhists, claims rights group

 

Burmas-Rohingya-refugee-p-010.jpg

 

Rohingya refugees in Malaysia protest outside the British high commission in Kuala Lumpur against the violence in Burma. Photograph: Ahmad Yusni/EPA

 

 

Communal violence is continuing in western Burma six weeks after the government declared a state of emergency, with much of it directed at minority Muslim Rohingyas who have been beaten, raped and killed, Amnesty International has claimed.

 

The rights group accused both security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of carrying out fresh attacks against Rohingyas, who are regarded as foreigners by the ethnic majority and denied citizenship by the government because it considers them illegal settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh.

 

After a series of isolated killings starting in late May, bloody skirmishes spread quickly across much of Burma's coastal Rakhine state.

 

The government declared a state of emergency on 10 June, deploying troops to quell the unrest and protect both Masjids and monasteries. Authorities said at least 78 people had been killed and thousands of homes of both Buddhists and Muslims either burned down or destroyed.

 

Since then, communal violence has continued, albeit at reduced intensity. Amnesty said attacks were now being directed mostly at the Rohingya population.

 

Violence in the past six weeks has been "primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingyas specifically the targets and victims", Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty, told the Associated Press.

 

"Some of this is by the security forces' own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists, with the security forces turning a blind eye in some cases."

 

Officials from Burma's government could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

Amnesty also said security forces, including the police and the army, had detained hundreds of Rohingyas.

 

"While the restoration of order, security, and the protection of human rights is necessary, most arrests appear to have been arbitrary and discriminatory, violating the rights to liberty and to freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion," Amnesty said in a statement.

 

The violence, which reached its bloodiest point in June, constituted some of the country's deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years and raised international concerns about the fate of the Rohingyas inside Burma.

 

The Burmese president, Thein Sein, said earlier this month the solution to ethnic enmity in Rakhine state was to either send the Rohingyas to a third country or have the United Nations refugee agency look after them. The UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, said, however, it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingyas.

 

Many people in Burma do not recognise Rohingyas as legitimate settlers – even those of Bengali heritage who came in the 19th century when the country was under British rule. The exodus of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in the 1980s and 1990s because of persecution, and their subsequent return, has added to the confusion over who among them are illegal immigrants.

 

Bangladesh also denies the Rohingyas citizenship, arguing that they have been living in Burma for centuries and should be recognised as citizens there instead.

 

The UN estimates that 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma. Thousands attempt to flee every year to Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere, trying to escape a life of abuse that rights groups say includes forced labour, violence against women and restrictions on movement, marriage and reproduction that breed anger and resentment.

Amnesty called on Burma to accept Rohingyas as citizens, something the government has staunchly opposed because it does not consider them an ethnic group native to Burma.

 

"Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless," Zawacki said. "For too long Myanmar's [burma's] human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them."

 

 

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/20/burmese-muslims-violence-amnesty

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