Fresh Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State
By Jack Phillips On October 23, 2012 @ 3:43 pm In Asia Pacific | No Comments
A new outbreak of violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma left hundreds of homes torched and at least three people dead.
Communal clashes erupted in Rakhine state, also known as Arakan, and are the latest to hit the region in a conflict that has uprooted tens of thousands and forced them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has requested to open an office in Rakhine state to provide aid to Rohingyas affected by the violence. Rakhines have been demonstrating for several weeks in opposition to the plan.
Rakhine state authorities told RFA that rioting broke out late around 10:00 p.m. Sunday in Mrauk U’s Paik village and continued through the night.
The state’s Chief Justice Hla Thein told RFA that, “The bodies of two Muslim women and one Rakhine man have been found.”
“Around 300 houses—which were small thatched roof houses—were destroyed,” said Thein.
An unnamed member of the “Free Funeral Service” told the Irrawaddy publication that the group found one body and believes that four others have been killed in the violence that erupted in nearby Puyein village.
The township and nearby areas were placed under a state of emergency.
Thein said that two Rakhine state ministers have been sent to the region to meet with the public and with security officials to control the situation.
Muslim residents told the Irrawaddy they were attacked by ethnic Rakhinese, who are mostly Buddhists, but some Rakhinese disputed those claims.
“Bengali Muslims burned down their own homes so they could get support from international relief organizations. They started the conflict with the local Rakhine [Arakanese] in many ways,” Thar Kyaw, who is Rakhinese, told the publication.
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