Monday 20 August 2012

Anti-UN rally in Myanmar over Rohingya aid

Source dailytimes, 20 Aug
* Protesters call for end to discrimination by UN against Rakhine people

YANGON: A group of about 50 demonstrators from violence-hit western Myanmar gathered in Yangon on Sunday to protest against UN assistance for stateless Rohingya Muslims.

The ethnic Rakhine convened near the regional parliament building in Myanmar's main city holding banners reading "Stop Creating Conflicts" and "Don't Bring Terrorists To Our Land". "We're calling for an end to discrimination by the UN against the Rakhine people," Zaw Aye Maung, a politician representing the mostly Buddhist ethnic group, told AFP. He said the rally had official approval.

Fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine state has left about 80 people from both sides dead since June, according to an official estimate, although rights groups fear the real toll is much higher.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, and Muslim nations have voiced deep concerns over the treatment of the stateless group.

Speaking a dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen by the Myanmar government and many Burmese as illegal immigrants, while Bangladesh has turned away Rohingya who attempted to flee the violence.

Twenty four political parties in Myanmar have urged the United Nations to replace its human rights envoy to the formerly army-ruled country, Tomas Ojea Quintana, saying he is biased in favour of the Rohingya.

Myanmar has set up a new commission to probe sectarian clashes that saw scores killed and displaced tens of thousands, members said, following intense scrutiny of its handling of the issue.

The nation's authorities have faced heavy criticism from rights groups after deadly unrest between Muslim Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in western Rakhine state. The 27-member commission, which includes religious leaders, artists and former dissidents, will "expose the real cause of the incident" and suggest ways ahead, state mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar said.

Myanmar's government has rejected accusations of abuse by security forces in Rakhine, after the United Nations raised fears of a crackdown on Muslims. New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya during the June outbreak of unrest, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other. agencies

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