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Suu Kyi discusses racial violence with Muslims

Aung San Suu Kyi has asked Burma’s majority Buddhist population to show “sympathy” with religious and racial minorities following an outbreak of sectarian violence in western Rakhine State.

Two Muslim men wait to speak with Aung San Suu Kyi at the National League for Democracy office in Rangoon on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. They wanted to discuss the murder in Arakan State of 10 Muslims this week by a mob in the worse sectarian violence in recent years. Photo: Ye Min / MizzimaTen Muslims were killed on Sunday in the majority Buddhist state, which borders Bangladesh, by a mob angered at the rape and murder of a local woman allegedly by three Muslim men, said an article by Agency France Press on Thursday.

The violence against Muslims, who are often treated as foreigner in Burma, was the wrose in more than a decade. 

Speaking to the media in Rangoon, Suu Kyi expressed concern at the handling of the situation by local Rakhine authorities, in particular their failure to dampen anti-Muslim sentiment after the woman was attacked.

“If the very first problem was handled effectively and quickly, this flicker wouldn't have become a flame,” she said.

She asked people not to “base your actions on anger” and called on the majority Buddhists to “have sympathy for minorities.”

Three suspects -- described as Bengali Muslims -- were already in custody at the time of the murders, according to state media.

Suu Kyi met a group of Muslim men at the National League for Democracy party office in Rangoon on Wednesday. The men asked Suu Kyi to help defuse religion and racial tensions.

“I felt worried for the future because of those issues... I now feel quite relieved after meeting her,” he said.

Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims occur periodically in Rakhine State.

In February 2001, the then-ruling junta declared a curfew in the state capital city of Sittwe after violent riots broke out between Muslims and Buddhists.

Buddhists make up some 89 percent of the population of Burma, with Muslims officially representing four per cent.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 June 2012 15:37 )  

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