UN envoy visits violence-stricken Meiktila in central Myanmar
Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:8PM
The clashes were reminiscent of the Buddhist extremists’ attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine in western Myanmar.The top UN envoy to Myanmar has visited the city of Meiktila in central Myanmar after dozens of houses and a mosque were burned and at least 32 people were killed in attacks by extremist Buddhists against Muslims. Vijay Nambiar, the United Nation secretary general's special adviser on Myanmar, toured Meiktila, and called on the government to punish those responsible for the tragedy. Nambiar also visited some of the nearly 10,000 people, most of whom Muslims forced out of their homes by armed Buddhist mobs. The top UN envoy to Myanmar stated that the people he spoke with believed the violence "was the work of outsiders."
"It is important to catch the perpetrators. It is important that they be caught and punished," he noted.Late on Sunday, the Myanmar state television published a report saying the attackers burned down a mosque and several buildings in the township of Lewei -- 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Meiktila -- and that a mosque and 50 homes were also burned in the township of Yamethin -- about 64 kilometers (40 miles) south of Meiktila -- early on Saturday. According to the report, 35 people involved in the arson were also detained. On Saturday, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party Win Htein issued a statement, saying, “Calm has been restored after troops have taken charge of security (in Meiktila) …So far, nearly 6,000 Muslim people have been relocated at a stadium and a police station for their safety.” The clashes were reminiscent of the Buddhist extremists’ attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine in western Myanmar. Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by Buddhist extremists. Buddhist extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the extremist Buddhists containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee. Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority. Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremist Buddhists. NT/AS