Myanmar tensions may ‘affect’ reforms

Myanmar tensions may ‘affect’ reforms

Myanmar tensions may ‘affect’ reforms

A Bangladeshi youth peers at the burnt Buddhist temple of Shima Bihar at Ramu. Thousands of rioters torch Buddhist temples and homes in Bangladesh. AFP photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the world’s largest Islamic body on Sept. 29 to “treat carefully” the issue of the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar because it could affect the reform process underway in the country.

Over the past year, Myanmar has introduced the most sweeping reforms in the former British colony since a 1962 military coup. A semi-civilian government, stacked with former generals, has allowed elections, eased rules on protests and freed dissidents. But an outbreak of violence in June between
Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims killed 80 people and displaced thousands.

Ban discussed the issue in separate meeting with Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Myanmar Prsident Thein Sein on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders. During his meeting with İhsanoğlu, Ban “indicated the importance of the situation in Rakhine being treated carefully because of the potential wider implications of the Rakhine issue on the overall reform process in Myanmar,” his spokesman said. İhsanoğlu said he wanted to visit Myanmar.

Buddhist temples torched in Bangladesh

In a related development, thousands of rioters torched Buddhist temples and homes in southeastern Bangladesh yesterday over a photo posted on Facebook deemed offensive to Islam, in a rare attack against the community. Officials said the mob comprising some 25,000 people set fire to at least five Buddhist temples and dozens of homes in Ramu town and its adjoining villages, some 350 kilometers from the capital Dhaka.

Buddhists, who make up less than one percent of Bangladesh’s 153 million population, are based mainly in southeastern districts, close to the border with Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.