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UN envoy visits Myanmar as ethnic clashes test reforms

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The violence started after a Rakhine woman was raped and murdered on May 28, with three Muslim men accused. This was followed by the lynching of 10 Muslims by a Buddhist mob on June 3, and then, on June 8, riots by Muslims in the town of Muangdaw. The tit-for-tat violence then reached regional capital Sittwe, whose Muslim population largely emptied out.

Myanmar Army detachments have kept an uneasy peace since mid June, though there are allegations of partiality in favor of the Rakhine, who, like Myanmar's majority Burmans, are mostly Buddhist. On July 27, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that “We have been receiving a stream of reports from independent sources alleging discriminatory and arbitrary responses by security forces, and even their instigation of and involvement in clashes.”

Similarly, according to a July 19 statement by Amnesty International, “Myanmar’s Border Security Force (nasaka), Army, and police have conducted massive sweeps in areas that are heavily populated by Rohingyas. Hundreds of mostly men and boys have been detained, with nearly all held incommunicado, and some subjected to ill-treatment.”

Myanmar's government denies wrongdoing, and a July 30 Myanmar government press release on Rakhine state, which is near the Bangladesh border, said that “Myanmar strongly rejects the accusations made by some quarters that abuses and excessive use of force were made by the authorities in dealing with the situation.”

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