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.
An earthquake measuring 7.9 has hit the east of Nepal, and was felt in India. Those with broken limbs have been taken to hospital and at least 50 people trapped in Kathmadu's 19th century tower.
The 7.9 earthquake earlier on Saturday has triggered an avalanche on Mt Everest
Two Australian drug convicts were notified on Saturday that they will be executed by firing squad in 72 hours at the Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
French photographer Roland Neveu tells of ‘accident of history’ of rise of ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge in 1975.
A Japanese man has been arrested for landing a drone on the prime ministers office in protest of Japan's use of nuclear power
Four fighters who say they work for Iran call on Assad regime and Hezbollah for an exchange of prisoners with Syrian opposition forces.
Human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead after leaving a restaurant where she had given a talk about Baluchistan.
The Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan (LOTFA) received over has received around $3.6 billion from international donors since 2002 to pay Afghan police force salaries and other expenses
Adam Gadahn, an American convert to Islam was killed by US attacks near the Afghan border in January of this year.
Taliban fighters have launched rocket attacks on a US base in Kabul and have targeted government buildings in Afghanistan.
Indonesian attorney general’s spokesman confirms reports that his office has sent letters to prosecutors advising them to make preparations ahead of the imminent executions of the Bali 9
The attacks come after deputy PM said ‘violence had decreased substantially’ in the Muslim south.
This is the first time a Chinese warship has warned a Philippine plane on patrol in disputed area in South China Sea, another military official said.
This is third Pakistani visit to Saudi Arabia since Islamabad decided to remain neutral in Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen.
After the meeting with Xi on the sidelines of an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia, Abe also said the two leaders agreed to contribute to regional stability and prosperity by promoting "mutually beneficial strategic ties"
A ceremony was held in Seoul involving U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, who continues to recover the full use of his left hand after being attacked with a knife at a local event last month.