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    Myanmar: UN official voices concern at reports of increased sectarian violence

    Special Adviser on the
    Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
    UN News Centre 
    March 26, 2013

    25 March 2013 – The United
    Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide today voiced deep concern
    at reports of increased violence between Muslim and Buddhist communities in
    Myanmar, and called on leaders to promote respect for diversity and peaceful
    coexistence.
    Last week President Thein
    Sein reportedly declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law in four
    central townships after several days of unrest between Buddhists and Muslims,
    including in Meiktila where at least 30 people were killed.
    “The recent episode of
    violence in Meiktila in central Myanmar raises concerns that sectarian violence
    is spreading to other parts of the country,” stated Special Adviser Adama
    Dieng. “In the context of last year’s violence between Buddhists and Rohingya
    Muslims in Rakhine state, there is a considerable risk of further violence if
    measures are not put in place to prevent this escalation.”
    Mr. Dieng said these
    measures must address not only the immediate consequences of the current
    violence but also the root causes of the problem. “Failing to do so can have
    serious future consequences which the international community has solemnly
    promised to prevent,” he stated.
    “The Government of Myanmar
    must clearly demonstrate that it is serious about holding accountable those
    responsible for the past and present violence, regardless of their religious or
    ethnic affiliations,” he urged. “The Government must also take measures to
    protect populations still at risk.”
    Noting that the State has
    the primary responsibility to protect its population, the Special Adviser
    called on the Government of Myanmar to address this situation as a matter of
    urgency, develop a comprehensive national strategy that upholds international
    human rights standards and promotes reconciliation and tolerance among Buddhist
    and Muslim communities in the country.
    “I call upon all religious
    leaders, local leaders and the communities themselves, to promote a culture of
    respect for diversity and peaceful coexistence that is fundamental in a
    multi-ethnic and multi-religious society such as the one in Myanmar,” stated
    Mr. Dieng
    “As a country that has
    positively surprised the international community with its recent transformation
    towards democracy, Myanmar needs to demonstrate that the rule of law will
    prevail and that all those living within its borders are and will be protected
    from violence and discrimination, particularly on the basis of religion or
    ethnicity.”