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Rohingya murdered in Burma

30 January 2014


Discussions: the Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire, delivers his speech at the British Council in Yangon, as he concludes a visit to Burma, on Thursday. Mr Swire was in the country for talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior Burmese government figures, regarding democratic change and the situation in Rakhine State

Discussions: the Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire, delivers his speech at the British Council in Yangon, as he concludes a visit to Burma, on Thu...

AT LEAST 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women, and children have been killed by police and villagers in the western state of Rakhine, in Burma, the UN has reported.

On Thursday of last week, the UN confirmed that it had received "credible information" that, on 9 January, eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine. Clashes took place on 13 January, in the same village, and a police sergeant was captured and killed by the Rohingya villagers. On the same evening, at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women, and children were killed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on the authorities "to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation".

Rakhine state has a history of sectarian violence. Last October, the UN special rapporteur on the human-rights situation in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said that the situation posed "one of the most serious threats to the process of democratic reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar".

On Tuesday, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) published an account of violations of the religious freedom of Chin Christians in Burma in 2013. Chin state, a north-western area of Burma, is home to about 500,000 ethnic Chin, who are largely Christian.

The country co-ordinator at CHRO, Salai Bawi Pi, said: "The main problem is that the government treats Buddhism as the de facto state religion in the country. That seriously undermines religious freedom for Chin Christians."

Last November, Chin churches, pastors, MPs, and others held a national conference, resulting in the creation of 12 recommendations for the government, calling on it to grant land-ownership rights for religious purposes, and to replace the Ministry for Religious Affairs with an "impartial religious affairs commission, in order to eliminate religious discrimation".

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