More than 100 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in a recent wave of sectarian violence in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, a Muslim party leader says.
Hla Thein, the vice chairman of the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD), said on Friday that over 100 Muslims have lost their lives over the past week in clashes between extremist Buddhists and Rohingyas.
The deadly violence peaked on Tuesday night, but people have been killed every day this week, said the leader of the Muslim political party that won four seats in Myanmar’s 2010 election.
Tensions have heightened across Rakhine, forcing Muslims to flee to emergency camps located in the state’s capital Sittwe.
The violence led the United Nations to warn on Friday that Myanmar’s “reforms and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized” if the communal unrest was not stopped.
“The vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped,” said a spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Myanmar army forces allegedly provided the Buddhists with containers of petrol to set ablaze the houses of Muslim villagers and force them out of their houses.
The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas and has classified them as illegal migrants, even though the Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origins, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.