Myanmar president blames Buddhist monks for violence
YANGON / BEIJING
Myanmar President Thein Sein shakes hands with Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA photoBuddhist monks, politicians and other ethnic Rakhine figures are kindling hatred toward Muslim Rohingya in an area plagued by sectarian violence, Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, has warned in a report.
In an assessment of the role of Buddhists in unrest in Rakhine (Arakan) state, which has left scores dead on both sides and displaced tens of thousands of people, Sein also said ethnic Rakhine could not accept the Rohingya as fellow citizens, Agence France-Presse reported.
As part of efforts to raise awareness of killings of the Rohingya in western Myanmar, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited the country on Aug. 8. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan, and daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, as well as the foreign minister’s wife, Sare Davutoğlu, accompanied the minister, who met with Sein during his visit, discussing both the humanitarian aid efforts being carried out by Turkey and the Rohingya Muslims’ situation.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and Myanmar’s government considers their 800,000-strong population as foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and view them with hostility.
“Political parties, some monks and some individuals are increasing the ethnic hatred. They even approach and lobby both the domestic and overseas Rakhine community,” Sein said in a report sent to Myanmar’s union parliament on Aug. 17. “Rakhine people are thinking [of terrorizing] the Bengali Muslims living across the country,” he said, using a term frequently used in Myanmar for Rohingya.
China returns refugees to Kachin war zone
Meanwhile, China forced at least 1,000 ethnic Kachin refugees who have fled from civil war to return to a combat zone in northern Myanmar this past week and has plans to deport 4,000 more soon, Human Rights Watch said on Aug. 24, according to The Associated Press.
Human Rights Watch urged the Chinese government to stop repatriating the refugees to Myanmar and instead provide temporary protection for them in Yunnan province, which lies along Myanmar’s northern border. The group said that while China has provided sanctuary to 7,000-10,000 Kachin refugees in Yunnan, the government has not given them protection or aid, and Chinese authorities have not allowed the United Nations and humanitarian groups to visit the refugees.
The refugees who were deported this week had been living in makeshift camps in China since June 2011, the group said.