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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Dec 19, 2012
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June 18 - 24, 2012
Myanmar’s first international weekly Volume 32, No. 631 1200 Kyats
     t     H     e
SITTWE – Fifty people havebeen killed and scores woundedin communal clashes in RakhineState, state media said on June16, as the UN warned of “immensehardship” faced by thousandsdisplaced by rioting.The state-run
 New Light of  Myanmar
said 50 people havedied, with 54 injured betweenMay 28 and June 14 in Rakhinestate, which has been convulsedby violence between the Rakhineand Rohingya communities.The report did not say whetherthe updated toll includes 10Muslims beaten to death on June3 by a Buddhist mob in apparentrevenge for the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, which sparkedthe violence.Colonel Htein Lin, Security andBorder Affairs Minister for RakhineState, said on June 14 that 29 peoplehad been killed, but rights groupsand other local sources believe thereal figure in Rakhine’s remotevillages could be much higher.Police enforced a curfew in thestate capital Sittwe on the night of June 15, with the
 New Light
sayingsecurity forces were “restoringpeace, stability and security” afterthe unrest, which poses a seriouschallenge to Myanmar’s reform-minded government.Nearly 31,900 people from bothsides are being housed in 37 campsacross Rakhine, Colonel Htein Linsaid at the first press conferenceby officials in the state capital of Sittwe since widespread riotingbegan on June 8.U Hla Thein, Rakhine StateChief Justice, told reporters that“nobody won, nobody benefited”from the violence.“What we got was refugees,” headded. “Everyone has a duty toprevent this happening again ...but it’s very difficult to talk aboutpeace when both sides don’t reallytrust each other.”
‘Nobody won, nobody benefited’
Country’s smooth transition hits hurdle as Rakhine State violence leaves 50 dead, scores wounded
More page 4
Nation on edge as uneasy calm settles over Sittwe
A woman rides her bicycle past burned housesin Sittwe, Rakhine State, on June 12.
Pic: AFP 
Full coverage inside pages 2-5
June 18 - 24, 2012
By Cherry Thein
PEOPLE on both sides of theconflict in Rakhine State needto show more transparencyand compassion and work toaddress the underlying issuesbehind the violence, religiousleaders said last week.The violence between theRakhine and Rohingya groupshas divided Myanmar societyand prompted fears that itcould spread to other areas. A preacher from the 59
 Street mosque told
The Myanmar Times
on June15 that all people needed towork together to prevent thespread of racial or religiousviolence in all its forms.“I believe it is not only theresponsibility of religiousleaders but all people toparticipate in building peace.We talk about peace betweenthe different faiths a lot butpeople need to practise itwith their actions as well,”U Sann Aung said.“The problem is strongpersonal feelings. People can’tcontrol their anger and theyforget to try and find out thereality behind the situation.For example, when they seea house has been burnt theirfirst thought is to respondwith violence,” he said.“And although somereligious leaders talk aboutpeace and the need for calm,they also can’t control theirpersonal aggression andanger. The enemy is theirown anger, which gives themdestructive thoughts.”U Sann Aung said themedia had an important roleto play and could be both apositive and negative forcedepending on how journalistsand editors approached theissue.“The news media, includingstate media, should find outthe real voices of those whowant peace and try to healthe situation by presentingbalanced stories so thatreaders can decide on thesituation accurately,” hesaid, adding that he believedunbalanced reporting in statemedia at the start of theconflict had exacerbated thesituation.“The media is a powerfultool and can create tensionif people are not careful. Iwish all journalists wouldfind a sense of balance andbe careful not to make thesituation worse,” he said.On June 15, the head of theState Sangha weighed intothe debate, calling on peoplenot to take revenge and tosolve the conflict in RakhineState with loving kindness.The venerable KumaraBiwontha (Bhamo Sayadaw)said all people should enjoythe right to practice theirreligion freely, should showsympathy to each other andavoid violence.“If we could review theproblem with wisdom, all canseek peace and tranquility,”the venerable said in amessage published in statemedia.The message waspublished the day thatrumours suggested Muslimswould be targeted whilegoing to pray at mosques.While the violence did notmaterialise, Ko Nyi Nyi, aMuslim resident of Yangon,said the rumours had madethe situation go “from bad toworse”.“The issue is arisingbecause of the actions of theformer government but nowthe country is on the road todemocracy all people shouldseek to solve problems with justice and calm,” he said.Meanwhile, the ShwedagonPagoda board of the trusteesannounced in a statementthat they would preventany group from using thepagoda as an assemblypoint for demonstrations orcampaigns.Secretary U Win Kyaingsaid the board did not wantpilgrims and tourists to bedisturbed during their visit.“This place is one of ourcountry’s main attractionsand a holy site so we have tooccasionally introduce rulesfor the sake of people so theycan find space for inner peaceand paying respect to theBuddha,” he said. A member of the board of trustees of Sule Pagoda – afocal point for recent protests– said demonstrations werealso not allowed at thedowntown Yangon pagoda.
Religious leadersurge calm afterRakhine violence
By Nan Tin Htwe
THE international communitycan play only a limited role inresolving a long-running ethnicconflict in Rakhine State thathas in recent weeks claimed atleast 50 lives, the head of theUnited Kingdom’s aid office inMyanmar said.Mr Paul Whittingham, head of the Department for InternationalDevelopment in Myanmar, saidin an interview on June 14that the violence in RakhineState, which has also seen scoresinjured and more than 2500homes destroyed, was “verytragic”.“We have been watching veryclosely and are concerned at theloss of lives, the flaring up of tensions,” he said. “I hope thesituation can be restored veryquickly.”He said that while internationalaid could help people inRakhine State rebuild afterorder is restored, the Rakhineand Rohingya communitiesand the government needed toexchange dialogue for a long-termresolution.“That is not really a problemwhich the internationalcommunity can solve,” he said.“A process which involves unityand leaders from both sides needsto be established where peoplecan express their concerns andpriorities.”He said that the Britishambassador to Myanmar,Mr Andrew Heyn, had urgedPresident U Thein Sein to doeverything possible to preventfurther conflict in Rakhine Statewhen they met in Nay Pyi Taw onJune 12 for the visit of the PeaceDonor Support Group.He said the Rakhine Stateconflict was “another challenge”for President U Thein Sein,noting it came on the heels of almost one year of fighting inKachin State.“The Rakhine issue is grave– the loss of lives. But the bigpicture is we believe this countryis taking a new direction whichis the right direction to a betterfuture for the people here. Andwe are determined to supportthat process.”DFID provides assistanceto Rakhine State indirectlythrough United Nations agencies,international non-governmentorganisations and local groups.
Only local solution can end ethnic unrest: DFID boss
People displaced by communal violence in Rakhine State take refuge in Sittwe’s MahaZaya Thateddi Adate Htan Monastery on June 14.
Pic: Boothee
June 18 - 24, 2012
By Ei Ei Toe Lwin
LEADING political partieshave urged all stakeholdersto work together to endthe sectarian conflict inRakhine State peacefullyand ensure the violence doesnot spread to other regions of the country.Speaking at a pressconference at Doe Yoe Yar restaurant in Bahantownship on June 11, U AyeThar Aung, chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy(ALD), said Myanmar citizensneeded to resolve the conflictwith unity.“We expect that thisdangerous situation willhappen because we’ve hadmany experiences like this inthe past,” U Aye Thar Aungsaid, referring to previousethnicity-based conflicts inRakhine State.“There is no guarantee thissituation will not happenagain in the future. Werequest all to stop theseriots immediately. Now theyhave spread in Buthidaung,Maungdaw and Sittwe. Weneed to stabilise the situationin time so it does not spreadto other places.“We also request [thegovernment] to protect ourpeople and give enoughassistance for those livingin refugee camps.”The ALD was supportedat the press conferenceby the National Leaguefor Democracy, RakhineNational DevelopmentParty, All Mon RegionsDemocracy Party, ZomiNational Congress and 88Generation students group.U Khun Htun Oo, chairmanof the Shan National Leaguefor Democracy, agreed it was“very important” that theviolence did not spread toother states and regions. All agreed a borderstrategy management planwas needed for the securityof people living in all of thenation’s border areas.88 Generation leader UKo Ko Gyi urged people tostay calm and avoid publicprotests over the conflict.He criticised “foreign media”who he said had unfairlyaccused Myanmar people of not treating Rohingya fairly.“Some people from outsideare saying now there is noterritory in the world [forthe Rohingya] and this isa humanitarian issue,” hesaid. “We help people whoare in trouble as refugeeswith humanity. But it is doesnot mean that we acceptpeople to be citizens withoutverifying [their background]to protect the interests of ourcitizens.”
By Zaw Win Than
THE United States embassy in Yangon last week held separatemeetings with representatives of Muslim organisations and a leadingRakhine political party to urge allsides to refrain from violence.US chargé d’affaires Mr MichaelThurston reiterated that the US wasdeeply concerned about the recentunrest in Rakhine State in the June14 meetings.“The most important thing now is thatall sides remain calm. Further dialogueis needed. And dialogue can only occurwhen there is calm,” Mr Thurston saidin a statement released the same day.Mr Thurston noted that manycommunities in Rakhine State weresuffering and recommended that anypublic demonstrations on the issuebe conducted peacefully. The US hasoffered assistance to the authoritiesin Nay Pyi Taw as they work to assistthose who have been affected by theviolence, he said.He also said the embassy hadencouraged the Myanmar governmentto pursue an investigation thatrespects due process and the rule of law in an expeditious and transparentmanner.Representatives from the AllMyanmar Moulvi Organisation,Ulama Islam Academicians League,Islamic Religious Affairs Council,Myanmar Muslim Youths’ ReligiousOrganisation, Myanmar MuslimNational League attended one meeting,while Dr Aye Maung from the RakhineNationalities Development Party andRakhine community leader U TheinShwe attended the other.
US embassy meets Islamic, Rakhine leaders
United response needed: parties
PRESIDENT U Thein Seinlast week declared a stateof emergency in RakhineState for “the security of the people and communitypeace” following sectarianviolence in the region.The decision, announcedon June 10, effectively givesthe military control overadministrative functions inthe state.U Thein Sein warnedthat if violence in RakhineState spread it could put thecountry’s transition towardsdemocracy in danger.“The situation coulddeteriorate and could beextended beyond RakhineState if we are terrorisingand killing each otherwith such sectarianism,endless hatred, the desireof vengeance and anarchy.I would like you all torealise how seriously itwould damage stability,democratisation processand national developmentof our country in transitionperiod,” U Thein Sein said.He said the governmentwould take action againstlawbreakers and reiteratedthat the government “wouldattach greater importanceto the rule of law”.
 Zaw Win Than
State of emergencydeclared
There is noguarantee thissituation will nothappen againin the uture.We request allto these riotsimmediately.
Burned and destroyed homes in Nar Zi villagenear Sittwe on June 14.
Pic: Boothee

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