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The conflict that flared up in Rakhaine state (Arakan state) in western Burma in June between the Buddhist majority population, Rakhaine and the Muslim minority, Rohingya have recently escalated.

Last week, 84 people, both Buddhists and Muslims, were been killed and 3 000 homes have been destroyed, according to government figures. Since the conflict broke out in June, over 100 people have been killed and over 100 000 people have been displaced.

President Thein Sein announced to the UN earlier this year that the Burmese government is not responsible for the Rohingya as they are not recognized as an ethnic group in Burma and that the UNHCR should ensure that all Rohingyas were moved to a refugee camp in another country. The Burmese government states that the Muslim minority group is illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In fact, there are about 800,000 Rohingya in Burma and many of them have lived in Burma for generations. The border between Burma and Bangladesh is porous and people have for centuries been moving back and forth across the border.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomas Quintana, traveled to the Rakhaine state in early August. But after his visit, he was accused of being biased by Rakhaine parties, Buddhist monks and some civil society organizations. Quintana called for an independent investigation into the events in Rakahine state. An investigative team was put together, but no representative from the Rohingya was included in the group. No report from the investigating team has been finalized yet.

The Olof Palme International Center supports the democracy movement in Burma and one of the programs includes trainings where young people from different ethnic groups are trained in topics such as human rights and equality.

– Education and information is the key to creating an understanding between different ethnic and religious groups and prevent conflicts such as the one in Rakhaine state. More effort that is specifically geared toward bridging the conflict between Rakhaine and Rohingya are needed, says Frida Perjus who is the Burma Programme manager at the Olof Palme International Center.

Read more:

Irrawaddy News:
“Survivors Slam Burmese Govt for Arakan Strife”.

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)
UN Rejects Thein Sein’s Potential Rohingya Plan”.

Irrawaddy News:
“US, UN React to Arakan Violence


Published: 2012-10-30

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