Friday, March 22, 2013

International community condemns Meiktila riots


Friday, 22 March 2013 13:19 Mizzima News

The United Nations, the US, the UK, and various other members of the international community have expressed concerns over the recent wave of sectarian violence which erupted in the central Myanmar town of Meiktila this week.

Photo: U.S. Embassy Rangoon via Facebook

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Myanmar, Ashok Nigam, on Thursday said, “I am deeply concerned with the violence and loss of lives and property in Meiktila Township, Mandalay Division.

“Prevention of such incidents must be given top priority,” he said. “In addition to ardent efforts by the religious and political leaders and the authorities to calm the situation, I call upon all parties in the unrest in Meiktila to exercise the utmost tolerance and restraint within their communities.”

His comments were backed by Vijay Nambiar, the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar who expressed “deep sorrow at the tragic loss of lives and destruction in Meiktila.”

He said “firm action” by the authorities was needed to prevent further loss of life or spread of violence.

Nambiar urged religious leaders and other community leaders in Myanmar to publicly call on their followers “to abjure violence, respect the law, and promote peace.”

In a brief statement, the US embassy said it was closely monitoring events.

“I am deeply concerned about reports of violence and widespread property damage," US Ambassador Derek Mitchell said. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and property in the violence.”

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt echoed those sentiments. “I am deeply concerned by the violence in the town of Meiktila in central Burma, and by reports of deaths and casualties,” he said in a statement. “I call on all parties for an immediate end to the violence, and urge the government to take all necessary action to protect civilians and to work with communities to tackle the hostility that is behind this.”

Meanwhile, London-based Amnesty International released a statement on the Meiktila crisis on Tuesday calling on Myanmar authorities to tackle the violence before it spreads.

“These latest reports of violence are very worrying, and show that tension between the two communities is spreading to other parts of the country. There is a real risk of further violence unless the authorities take immediate steps to protect those at risk,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

“There should also be an immediate and impartial investigation into the recent violence so that those responsible can be held to account.

“The Myanmar authorities are responsible for ensuring protection of people, their homes and livelihoods. While doing so, they must ensure protection of all communities without discrimination,” she said. “It is imperative that the cycle of violence is not repeated.”

The communal violence in Meiktila comes as the Myanmar government struggles to quell international outrage over clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Rakhine State last year which left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
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