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    Burma: Risk of further violent clashes unless action is taken

    A man stands in front
    of a mosque as it burns in Meikhtila March 21, 2013 redit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun


    Amnesty UK:
    March 22, 2013
    Violence between
    Buddhist and Muslim communities in Burma that reportedly left several people
    dead demonstrates an urgent need for Burmese authorities to protect people at
    risk, Amnesty International said.
    On Wednesday, violent
    clashes broke out between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Meiktila, a town
    in Burma’s Mandalay Division, following a dispute at a Muslim-owned gold shop.
    According to local
    sources, several people have been killed. There was also widespread damage to
    property in the town, including the destruction of mosques and a government
    building.
    Tensions between
    Muslim and Buddhists have been heightened in certain parts of Burma, such as in
    Rakhine state where violence erupted in June 2012.
    Amnesty
    International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director Isabelle Arradon, said:
    “These latest reports
    of violence are very worrying, and show that tension between the two
    communities is spreading to other parts of the country. There is a real risk of
    further violence unless the authorities take immediate steps to protect those
    at risk.
    “There should also be
    an immediate and impartial investigation into the recent violence so that those
    responsible can be held to account.
    “The authorities are
    responsible for ensuring protection of people, their homes and livelihoods.
    While doing so, they must ensure protection of all communities without
    discrimination.
    “It is imperative
    that the cycle of violence is not repeated.”
    Police were deployed
    to Meiktila after the incident and a curfew has been put in place.
    In June violence
    erupted between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine state, leaving
    scores dead and injured, and leading to widespread destruction and
    displacement. Both communities have been affected by the violence, but the
    Muslim communities, including the Rohingya minority community, have been the
    primary victims.
    A
    government-appointed commission was established in August 2012 to investigate
    the violence between Buddhists and Muslim communities in Rakhine state. It is
    expected to submit its report to the president of Burma and release it publicly
    at the end of March.