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HRW calls for govt to crack down on instigators


In a report released on April 1, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the Myanmar government to thoroughly investigate and punish those responsible for the recent riots in Meiktila and central Myanmar.

A man walks outside a partially-destroyed mosque in Gyobingauk, Bago region, on March 28, 2013, in the aftermath of anti-Muslim riots. (AFP)
 A man walks outside a partially-destroyed mosque in Gyobingauk, Bago region, on March 28, 2013, in the aftermath of anti-Muslim riots. (AFP)
“The government should investigate responsibility for the violence in Meiktila and the failure of the police to stop wanton killings and the burning of entire neighborhoods,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at the New York-based human rights NGO. “Burma’s [Myanmar's] government should have learned the lessons of recent sectarian clashes in Arakan [Rakhine] State and moved quickly to bolster the capacity of the police to contain violence and protect lives and property.”

Adams called for leaders from all sections of Myanmar society to help end the hate speech from certain Buddhist leaders that has helped to fuel inter-communal violence across the country.

The pleas came after shocking satellite images showing the extent of the devastation in the town were released. An estimated 40 people were killed, 61 injured and 12,000 displaced from their homes, mostly Muslims, in the violent clashes that erupted from a dispute in a gold shop on March 20.

“[The violence] seemed to have been done, in a sense, in almost a kind of brutal efficiency,” said Vijay Nambiar, the UN envoy, following his visit to Meiktila just after the riots took place.

The government has been criticized for its slow reaction to step in and prevent the violent clashes escalating. In a televised address to the nation on March 27, Myanmar President Thein Sein said he was saddened by the religious violence that has taken part in central Myanmar, and warned instigators that he had the power to deploy security forces to protect his fellow citizens.

“In general, I do not endorse the use of force to solve problems,” he said. “However, I will not hesitate to use force as a last resort to protect the lives and safeguard the property of [the] general public.”

Speaking to Mizzima directly after hearing the president's speech, Khin Maung Swe, founder of the National Democratic Force, said, “It is essential to take action against political opportunists and religious extremists.

Related articles:
  1. UN envoy slams anti-Muslim campaign
  2. Meiktila ‘like a war zone’ in aftermath of rioting
  3. Mobs stalk the streets of Meiktila
Last Updated ( Friday, 05 April 2013 12:21 )  

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