World Bulletin / News Desk
Myanmar security forces killed, raped or carried out mass arrests of Rohingya Muslims after deadly sectarian riots in the northeast in June, a rights group said on Wednesday, adding the authorities had done little to prevent the initial unrest.
Aid workers were blocked and in some cases arrested, and Rohingyas bore the brunt of a government crackdown in Rakhine state after a week of arson and machete attack by both ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingyas, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.
Based on 57 interviews with Rakhines and Rohingyas, the report seeks to shed light on a conflict that exposed deep-rooted communal animosity and put the spotlight on promises by the civilian government in office since 2011 to protect human rights after decades of brutal army rule.
"Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan (Rakhine) and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass round-ups against the Rohingya," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
"The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist."
Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said on Monday the authorities had exercised "maximum restraint" in restoring law and order and that the rioting was not fuelled by religious persecution.
He rejected what he said were attempts to "politicise and internationalise the situation as a religious issue", adding that the government was eager to promote "racial harmony among different nationalities".
In veiled criticism of the United States and European Union, which praised the government for its handling of the unrest, Adams said the international community had been "blinded by a romantic narrative of sweeping change" in Myanmar.
The former Burma has a diverse ethnic and religious make-up, but the Rohingya Muslims are not included by the government. There are at least 800,000 Rohingyas in the country but they are not recognised as one of its ethnic groups.
Neighbouring Bangladesh does not accept them and pushed boatloads back out to sea when they tried to flee the unrest.
Myanmar President Thein Sein has declared a state of emergency in the country and threatened to expel Muslims and called on UN to look after them in refugee camps in a suggestion firmly rejected by UN for that it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingya, who live in western Myanmar and are not refugees.
UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres replied it could only resettle refugees that fled from one country to another.
The riots followed two brutal incidents in Rakhine state: the May 28 rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohingya males, who were sentenced to death, and the June 3 lynching in response of 10 non-Rohingya Muslims travelling on a bus.
Human Rights Watch said police and troops did not intervene to stop the mobs from beating the Muslims to death. During the riots that followed, it said some Rohingyas who tried to flee or put out fires at their homes were shot at by paramilitaries.
It called for the government to end abuses, grant full humanitarian access and invite in international monitors. Access to the area remains restricted.
Minister of Border Affairs Thein Htay says 858 people have been detained for involvement in the violence, including five UNHCR staff and a U.N. World Food Programme employee. It was unclear how many of the total were Rohingya or ethnic Rakhine.
The Foreign Ministry has said 77 people died and 109 were injured during the violence, and nearly 5,000 homes burnt down. But rights groups say real number are much higher than official count.
Bani Rushaid told a military judge presiding at a state security court he had not "committed any crime that warranted being held accountable for".
The Doha-based Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr news channel, devoted to covering news from Egypt, said that it was suspending broadcasts from the Qatari capital until "conditions are favorable" for resuming work from Egypt.
Syria approves delivery in hard to reach areas of Aleppo
The truck appeared to have run out of control along a pavement in the city centre shopping area, close to fairground attractions and an ice rink set up for the Christmas holiday
In a new front, fighting spread west of Tripoli close to the oil and gas port of Mellitah, operated by NOC and Italy's ENI
Middle Eastern countries will continue to be world's main oil supplier, says IEA chief economist
Essam Sultan, deputy leader for Wasat party jailed for one year for verbal and physical assault of policeman.
Schools shut as protesting teachers demand the government pass an education bill.
Oil prices increased on Monday after India and China revealed high oil demand for November.
They will discuss a possible military action against Congo-based Rwandan rebels
Iranian parliament speaker has hailed a planned national dialogue in Lebanon between rivals Hezbollah and Sunni-led Future Movement
Veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi has won Tunisia's first free presidential election, official results showed, but rioting broke out in one southern city, with police firing teargas to disperse hundreds of youths who burned tyres and blocked streets to demonstrate against the victory of an official from Ben Ali's old guard.
Officials from Sweden’s center-left and center-right parties secretly gather to solve failed agreements on the country’s 2015 budget, local media reports.
Pakistan plans to execute around 500 militants in coming weeks, officials said on Monday, after the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty following a Taliban school massacre.
Brotherhood source says that the group's meetings and conferences were now being held outside Qatar, which is why he believes his residency in Doha won't be affected by the country's recent rapprochement with Egypt.
Ling is vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.