Myanmar urged 'denounce violence'

A leading human rights group has called on Myanmar's government to take decisive action to end religious attacks against Muslim communities, and has released satellite photos showing the destruction of entire neighbourhoods in recent riots.

  • Published: 1/04/2013 at 05:10 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Policemen form a line as they block access to part of the town where a house is burning in riot-hit Meiktila, central Myanmar on March 22. Human Rights Watch has called on Myanmar's government to take decisive action to end religious attacks against Muslim communities, and has released satellite photos showing the destruction of entire neighbourhoods in recent riots. (AFP photo)

New York-based Human Rights Watch published a statement saying the government should denounce those responsible for the March 20-22 violence in the central city of Meiktila that left more than 40 people dead and drove 12,000 from their homes in the Mandalay Region.

Satellite photos released by the group appeared to show areas of Meikhtila levelled by fire. The group's analysis said the destruction covered more than 24 hectares (59 acres) and destroyed at least 828 buildings, mostly homes.

The group said the destruction appears similar to satellite imagery of towns affected by sectarian violence in Arakan State in 2012, in which arson attacks left large, clearly defined residential areas in ashes.

“The government should investigate responsibility for the violence in Meiktila and the failure of the police to stop wanton killings and the burning of entire neighborhoods,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 

“Burma’s government should have learned the lessons of recent sectarian clashes in Arakan State and moved quickly to bolster the capacity of the police to contain violence and protect lives and property.”

Meanwhile, global Muslim body the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is planning to take the issue of persecution of Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar to the United Nations to help stop continuing attacks against the minority.

“OIC intends to raise the issue in the Security Council and the Human Rights Council to find a solution that contributes to putting an end to religious persecution against Muslims in Burma,” an OIC official told Arab News.

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