Myanmar police kill one in crackdown on Buddhist mob

National, October 31, 2012

 

A long line of Myanmar soldiers, arriving back from the unrest area in Rakhine state, march in Sittwe city, capital of Rakhine State, Myanmar, on Oct 31. EPA

 

Yangon – Myanmar police on Tuesday killed at least one Rakhine Buddhist in an attempt to quell a mob seeking to expel Muslims from a village in the troubled Rakhine state.

The killing happened Tuesday morning after thousands of RakhineBuddhists tried to force a Muslim community in Kyauk-ni-maw village, Ramree township of the Rakhine state, to leave their homes, prompting police to intervene.

In an effort to quell the mob, a policeman shot dead Kyaw HanShay, 56, a Rakhine Buddhist and injured another man identified asThan Tin, who was hospitalized, Rakhine member of parliament Tin Pe said.

“The police should have tried to solve the situation peacefully, without resorting to shooting,” Tin Pe said.

It was the latest outbreak of sectarian-related violence to hitthe Rakhine state in western Myanmar where more than 170 people havedied since June as a result of fighting between local Buddhist and Rohingya-Muslim communities.

The spate of killings was sparked by the rape and murder of a Rakhine Buddhist woman, allegedly by three Muslims, in Kyauk-ni-mawvillage, on the western coast, the scene of Tuesday’s incident.

An estimated 90 people were killed and 75,000 displaced by the June fighting. Another 84 people died and 28,000 were displaced by afresh outbreak of communal strife last week, which included the burning of some 4,400 houses.

Behind last week’s violence appears to be an effort by Buddhist communities to push Rohingya-Muslims out of their homes and force them to relocate to refugee camps.

There are currently about nine camps in Sittwe township, 500kilometres north-west of Yangon, that have been receiving limited aidfrom the United Nations and French aid organisation Medicins Sans Frontieres since June.

Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist. The Rohingya, most of whom havelived in Rakhine for generations, are mainly descendents of labourers brought in from neighbouring Bangladesh during the British colonial era.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingya live in the state’s three northern townships. They have been denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizens Law.

The Rakhine violence is a major embarrassment for the government of President Thein Sein, a reformer who came to power in March, last year, who has called on Myanmar Buddhists to show restraint in the Rakhine, so far without much avail

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