New York: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary steps to protect communities at risk in Arakan State after violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Myanmar left an unknown number dead.
It accused the Burmese Government of not taking adequate steps to stop sectarian-violence between Arakan Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims or to bring those responsible to justice.
Human Rights Watch urged the government to give prompt access to international journalists, aid workers, and diplomats.
“Deadly violence in Arakan State is spiraling out of control under the government’s watch,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Opening the area to independent international observers would put all sides on notice that they were being closely watched,” Pearson added.
Brutal violence in Arakan State in western Myanmar erupted on June 3, 2012, when an estimated 300 Arakan Buddhists attacked a bus of traveling Muslims, killing 10 passengers.
The angry mob was reacting to information that an Arakan girl was allegedly raped and murdered in late May by three Rohingya suspects.
At the time of the attack, the suspects were reportedly in police custody.
Clashes have intensified since, spreading to the state’s largest town, Sittwe, with Rohingya mobs burning Arakan homes and businesses, and the army opening fire and allegedly killing Rohingyas.
Mobs of Rohingya and Arakanese, armed with sticks and swords, have reportedly committed violence that resulted in a number of deaths.
The Burmese Government has ordered an investigation into the violence.
As clashes worsened, on June 10, President Thein Sein issued a state of emergency in the area, ceding complete authority to the Burmese army.
The HRW said that influential governments such as the US, Japan, Australia, and members of the European Union should continue to press for full civilian control over the military and building the rule of law, instead of giving up all its leverage at a moment when the reform process has barely begun.