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Myanmar opens new probe into deadly sectarian unrest

Published Aug 18, 2012 07:14am


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Rohingya Muslims living in Malaysia hold placards during a rally outside British High Commission office in Kuala Lumpur. — File Photo by AP

YANGON: Myanmar has set up a new commission to probe sectarian clashes that saw scores killed and displaced tens of thousands, members told AFP, following intense scrutiny of its handling of the issue.

The nation's authorities have faced heavy criticism from rights groups after deadly unrest between Muslim Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in western Rakhine state.

The 27-member commission, which includes religious leaders, artists and former dissidents, will “expose the real cause of the incident” and suggest ways ahead, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

The newspaper said its remit is to establish the causes of the June violence, the number of casualties on both sides and recommend measures to ease tensions and find “ways for peaceful coexistence”.

“As an independent commission was formed inside the is a right decision which showed that we can create our own fate of the country,” Aye Maung, the chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, told AFP.

In June, the government established a committee to investigate the sectarian strife. But its findings, originally expected by the end of that month, were never released by President Thein Sein.

The regime also invited the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest Muslim grouping, to visit the country in an effort to diffuse mounting outcry over the treatment of the Muslim Rohingya.

Official figures say some 80 people died in the initial spasm of violence, but rights groups say the toll is likely much higher — mainly on the Rohingya side.

The commission is expected to call witnesses and be granted access to the areas rocked by the violence, which saw villages razed and has left an estimated 70,000 people — from both communities — in government-run camps and shelters.

Thein Sein has overseen a series of reforms since the end of outright military-rule last year, but the Rakhine bloodshed cast a long shadow over those changes.

Myanmar's government has rejected accusations of abuse by security forces in Rakhine, after the United Nations raised fears of a crackdown on Muslims.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya during the June outbreak of unrest, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.

Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.


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Comments (6) Closed

Rizwan Hamid Aug 18, 2012 03:18pm
I think well off muslim counteries should call their ambasadors and stop trading with myanmar. I gauranttee within a month peace or kind of negotiation can be achieved. Monetory aid alone would not work.
Amit-Atlanta-USA Aug 18, 2012 03:06pm
Burma and India must follow the Chinese example of not entertaining any reviews from International Human rights groups. The Chinese say, we know what's best for us, and never ever provide a foot in the door to these agencies.....PERIOD!
Imran Aug 18, 2012 03:08pm
This (Quran) is the Guidance of Allah. He gives that guidance to whom He pleases, of His servants. (Quran 35:8) Lets pray all? together that Allah gives us guidance. Ameen. You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah . If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.(Quran 3:110)
Khazina Aug 18, 2012 12:06pm
It is unfortunate yet true that the last 800 years has seen a constant decline in the image of Muslims. Muslims are at the lowest point now than any other time in their entire history. The Sunni-Shia rift occurred shortly after Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) death. It continues on to this day plus add some 100 other sects at each others throats. So when Musims are targeted elsewhere, it should come as no surprise.
Faisal Aug 18, 2012 07:53pm
I agree with you dear Rizwan, at least Muslim Nations should do that to show the Muslim Harmony.
Mohammed Smile Khan Aug 18, 2012 10:16pm
Can this enquiry get justice for Ummah? Very unlikely. Remember that myanmar is not darulislam. It has lot of idol worship also. Even in sri lanka, where buddhists rule, has the Muslim community got any justice ever? They were accused of being part of tamizh movement oncer upon a time, though everyone knows that tamizh leadership was christian. In myanmar also now there is very heavy missionary activity of christian, in open collusion with buddhist government. Can Ummah every expect justice from such paper enquiries? Only saviour is Saudi who should provide more money and establish a strong force worldwide to protect Muslims.