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Monday, 07 August 2017 08:23

Anti-Muslim sentiment spreads across Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to ongoing violence as anti-Muslim sentiment spreads across Myanmar amid fears of a repeat of the deadly communal violence


Religious tensions have been on the rise in Myanmar as the Rohingya Muslims are buffeted by outbreaks of mob violence and places of worship have been shuttered.

Recently a group of about 30 people armed with sticks and swords entered the Muslim-majority Sakya Nwe Sin neighbourhood in the former royal capital, Mandalay, according to a resident. A local administrator said two young Muslim men were injured, but authorities insisted the incident was not sectarian.

However, Mandalay residents told Reuters the incident had stirred fears of a repeat of deadly communal violence that hit the same neighbourhood in 2014.

In a letter to Suu Kyi on Thursday, 20 groups working on human rights in Myanmar said the government needed to do more to protect Muslims, who make up 4.3 percent of the population.

"The Burma government must not appease the ultra-nationalists who are utilizing hate speech, intimidation, and violence to promote fear in Muslim communities across the country," said the letter.

A United Nations report issued earlier this year said Myanmar's security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

The European Union proposed the investigation after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the army's operation in the northern part of Rakhine State - where most people are Rohingyas - likely included crimes against humanity.

In Myanmar, Rohingyas face fundamental rights abuses. Myanmar's nationality law, approved in 1982, denies Rohingya citizenship. According to the law, foreigners cannot become naturalized citizens of Myanmar unless they can prove a close familial connection to the country.

Rohingyas are not recognized among the 134 official ethnicities in Myanmar because authorities see them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. They are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights and are heavily restricted by the government. They have no permission to leave the camps built for them, have no source of income and have to rely on the World Food Programme to survive.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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