Myanmar vows ‘justice’ for victims of unrest
SITTWE (MYANMAR) MYANMAR pledged on Sunday to hunt down those responsible for the deaths of 50 people in communal clashes, as the relief effort was stepped up for tens of thousands displaced by the violence.
More than 30,000 people — both ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya — have been displaced after homes were set ablaze during riots and revenge attacks in the western state of Rakhine earlier this month, state media says.
The UN warned of the “immense hardship” faced by thousands of families, just as monsoon rains sweep in.
Rice, water and shelter is being delivered to the state capital Sittwe, but there are mounting concerns about more remote areas.
Both sides accuse each other of being responsible for the violence, which has torn apart communities that had lived together for many years and overshadowed recent reforms under the quasicivilian government.
After visiting the area, a senior Myanmar minister vowed the government “would bring about justice and prosecute offenders without bias”, state mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar reported on Sunday.
“Lawlessness is unacceptable,” the paper said, quoting Lieutenant-General Thein Htay, Union Minister for Border Affairs and Myanmar Industrial Development.
“The government will bring offenders to justice and restore stability as soon as possible,” he vowed.
The unrest has prompted President Thein Sein to warn of the danger of disrupting the nation’s fledgling reform process as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule.
But in Sittwe more immediate concerns dominate, with the United Nations estimating around 10,000 people are badly in need of temporary shelter and food following several days of violence.
The military has been joined by non-governmental organisations and local donors in providing food, water and shelter, a Rakhine official said, as thousands spent another night in tents after fleeing their burning homes.
“Food is being distributed to the displaced people,” Thar Lu Chay, a Rakhine minister, told AFP in Sittwe, adding that the UN’s refugee arm is among those “providing bags of rice to the people.” But there are fears insufficient relief has reached remote areas, particularly with the monsoon rains threatening Rakhine, where an uneasy calm was reported in Sittwe, with military and police enforcing a curfew overnight.
Decades of discrimination have left the Muslim Rohingya stateless and viewed by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minorities on the planet.
About 800,000 of them live in Myanmar, according to the UN, mostly in Rakhine.