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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.