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2 Rohingyas Killed, 6 Injured, For ‘Attacking Security Forces’

Police stand guard in Sittwe, the capital of
Arakan State, in this June 2012 photo, after communal violence saw houses
torched and residents driven from their homes. (Photo: Reuters)
June 28, 2013
Two Rohingya Muslims were killed and six were
injured, including two minors, after government security forces opened fire on
displaced Muslims in a camp in Arakan State’s Pauktaw Township on Thursday, the
UN said.
An Arakan official claimed that the crowd had
been shot at because they “attacked” the armed officers.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
said in a statement on Friday that the incident had reportedly been sparked by
a disagreement between displaced Rohingyas and local Muslim villagers, who had
come to Kyein Ni Pyin camp to construct temporary shelters.
UNHCR said the two groups had a poor
relationship and false rumors that the displaced Rohingyas would be isolated at
another site led to an argument. Security forces intervened and took away a
camp leader.
“When some of the displaced gathered at a
nearby military post asking that the leader be handed over, gunfire was used by
the authorities to disperse the crowd, resulting in the fatalities and
wounding,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said.
He added that UNHCR staff arrived shortly
after to treat the wounded. The agency is calling for investigation into the
deadly shooting at the camp, which houses some 4,400 Rohingyas who were
displaced by last year’s inter-communal violence.
Arakan State spokesperson Myo Thant’s account
of events differed from the UNHCR statement as he claimed that the shooting had
been provoked by the Rohingyas.
“The incident initially broke out between the
workers and displaced in Kyein Ni Pyin IDP camp following a dispute over
payments,” he said. “Security forces who tried to intervene in the dispute were
attacked by a group of displaced people, and the security forces shot to
disperse the crowd.”
Myo Thant said one person died on the scene,
while another succumbed to his injuries on Friday.
It is unclear if the security forces fired
any warning shots before taking aim at the Rohingyas.
A man called Lalu, one of the 35 workers who
had become embroiled in the argument at the camp, also blamed the incident on
the displaced Rohingyas.
“They threw stones at us and held knives and
sticks, and their group was big,” he claimed, adding that workers and officers
“had no place to run as there was only a fence behind us, so the authorities
shot into the crowd to disperse them.”
The incident is the second fatal shooting in
a camp for displaced Rohingyas this month, after policemen shot dead three
Muslim women in Parein village, Mrauk-U Township, on June 4.
The women had been among a group of unarmed
Muslim villagers who had protested against a government order to move to
another site, according to UN rapporteur on human rights in Burma Tomás Ojea
He condemned the incident at the time as
“another shocking example” of “widespread and systematic” human rights abuses
by security forces against the Muslim minority, which are not recognized by the
government as citizens of Burma.
The President’s Office has dismissed the
allegations and claimed the women had been shot dead because “they attacked
International human rights groups and the UN
rights envoy have repeatedly deplored the government’s handling of the crisis
in western Burma, where Arakanese Buddhists clashed with Rohingyas between June
and October 2012. The unrest led to 192 deaths and displaced about 140,000 people,
mostly Muslims.