A fire burns in the Pike Sake quarter in Kyout Phyu, Rakhine state, western Myanmar Photo: EPA
More than a thousand homes have been razed in renewed ethnic violence between Burma’s Rakhine Buddhists and its Rohingya Muslim minority.
Curfews were enforced in two towns in Rakhine state in north-west Burma following new clashes just months after more than 80 people were killed in June.
Then, violence broke out following claims that a Buddhist woman was raped by three Rohingya Muslim men.
Rohingya leaders claim more than 600 of their people were killed, hundreds more remain missing and more than 80,000 fled their homes.
The violence has spread to neighbouring Assam in India and to Bangladesh where Buddhist temples have been attacked by Rohingya groups seeking revenge.
The continuing violence erupted as world leaders lauded the efforts of President Thein Sein and the country’s Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to usher in new democratic reforms.
Since then, Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for ducking questions on the clashes although on Tuesday she voiced her concerns and said the absence of rule of law was to blame.
“Of course I am worried about the situation there. Actually, this situation can be expected. As I often said, there must be the rule of law to prevent this sort of problem. It cannot be sorted out overnight,” she said.
The conflict however remains unsolved and three people have been killed since Sunday in clashes which saw more than 1000 homes burned to the ground. Curfews were imposed in Minbya and Mrauk Oo, but has spread to other towns.
According to Reuters, violence had yet to be contained in Myay Bone, where local sources blamed Rohingyas for the clashes. “The local Rohingyas prepared boats for escape. Just before escape, they started setting fires. Then the Arakans (local Rakhine people) chased them down, seized one of the Rohingyas who had started a fire and also burnt the Rohingyas’ boats prepared for escape,” the source said.
The Rohingya Muslims are believed to be one of the world’s most persecuted groups. There are an estimated 800,000 living close to Burma’s border with Bangladesh but neither state accepts them as their own.In Burma they are regarded as ‘Bengali immigrants’.