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Muslims call on Myanmar govt to provide better security
Publication Date : 03-10-2013
Myanmar's main Muslim organisations called on the government Wednesday to protect them, a day after Buddhist mobs were reported to have killed up to four Muslims and burnt a mosque in the western state of Rakhine.
The Muslim minority is feeling great sorrow after being attacked and we are now living in a high state of fear," said a joint statement issued by the country’s four biggest Muslim organisations.
The latest round of communal violence began on Saturday in the town of Thandwe, 270 kilometres north-west of Yangon, and spread to nearby villages on Tuesday.
"According to initial reports, at least four people were killed, but the figure can’t be confirmed because (the violence) covered a wide area," a Rakhine police officer said. Other reports said only one Muslim woman was killed in Tuesday’sunrest.
The Muslim organisations called on the government to protect the life and property of all residents. "We demand that the government ensures the rule of law in order to protect us," the statement said.
Thandwe is situated more than 100 kilometres south of Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine state, which was the scene of bloody sectarianfighting last year that claimed at least 167 lives and left 140,000 homeless, most of them Rohingya Muslims.
Earlier Buddhist mobs attacked Muslim neighbourhoods in Rakhine state Tuesday, killing at least four people just hours before a planned visit to the area by the president.
"Four people were reported dead and 50 more were injured by thisevening," said a police officer in Thandwe, about 270 kilometresnorth-west of Yangon.
The mobs also burned down at least 100 houses and shops in villages neighbouring Thandwe city, he said on Tuesday.
"We can’t get the exact number of dead and injured now," said WinMyaing, spokesman for the Rakhine state government. "We are trying to restore order," he said by phone.
Buddhist mobs started setting fire to Muslim houses and shops infive villages around Thandwe on Tuesday, and police failed to containit due to a lack of personnel, the police officer said.
Thandwe is situated more than 100 kilometres south of Sittwe, thecapital of the Rakhine state, which was the scene of bloody sectarianfighting last year that claimed at least 167 lives and left 140,000homeless, most of them Rohingya Muslims.
Last year’s violence was aimed at the Rohingya Muslim minoritygroup, a stateless people who have been living for generations in thethree northernmost townships of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh.
Tuesday’s violence appeared to be directed against Rakhine Muslimswho are Myanmar citizens, sources said.
Trouble started in Thandwe on Saturday after a Buddhist taxi driver complained to police about being verbally abused by a Muslimshop owner for parking in front of his establishment. Police took the Muslim in for questioning.
When he was released, Rakhine Buddhists became enraged and peltedthe man’s house with stones, according to police reports. At least two houses were burned down in Thandwe Sunday night, Win Myaing said.
The renewed sectarian tensions in the Rakhine state came hoursbefore Myanmar President Thein Sein was due to arrive in the restivestate for the first time since taking office in March 2011.