Skip to main content

12 more die in sectarian violence in Myanmar

By Kocha Olarn, CNN
June 21, 2012 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
  • The World Food Programme estimbates 90,000 people are displaced and need help
  • The attack that appears to have set off the unrest involved the rape and killing of a woman
  • Two Muslim men receive the death penalty; a third already hanged himself in jail
  • Amnesty International calls for an independent investigation into the violence

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- A dozen more people have died during ongoing sectarian violence in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, bringing the death toll from the unrest to 62, a local official said Wednesday.

"The town has returned to normalcy, but the martial law and curfew are still in place," said Win Myaing, a spokesman for state affairs. "Residents can't leave their compounds from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. and gatherings of more than five people are not allowed in order to prevent unrest."

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims erupted after the police detained three Muslim men in relation to the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman late last month. Two of the men were sentenced to death this week, the government-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported on its website. A third man hanged himself while in detention on June 9.

News of the crime appears to have motivated several hundred people to attack a bus in Rakhine in early June, killing 10 Muslims who were on board.

Suu Kyi's 'ambitious' plan for Myanmar
Myanmar erupts after rape, murder report

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims then spread across the northern part of the state, resulting in the destruction of thousands of homes and the deaths of about 50 people, according to the government.

The national government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine, bringing in the military to help restore order.

Rakhine is home to the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority who say they have been persecuted the Myanmar military during its decades of authoritarian rule.

Hundreds of Rohingyas tried last week to cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh to flee the sectarian violence.

But the Bangladeshi authorities have turned them back, saying they already have too many Rohingya refugees. Bangladeshi officials estimate 300,000 Rohingyas live in the country, with about a 10th of them in two official refugee camps.

The unrest in Rakhine appears to have subsided notably from its peak earlier this month.

The challenge for the authorities and international aid groups is supporting the thousands of people driven from their homes by the violence.

U.N. World Food Programme estimated this week that "there are about 90,000 displaced people in need of assistance as a result of the recent clashes."

"The situation in northern Rakhine State remains very tense," the human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday.

The organization called on the authorities to "ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to displaced people, and conduct an independent and impartial investigation into recent communal violence."

Vijay Nambiar, a U.N. envoy who visited the affected area, said last week that repairing relations between the different communities in Rakhine would be "a long haul."

The unrest has tested the efforts of President Thein Sein's administration to seek reconciliation with Myanmar's different ethnic groups and move the country toward more democratic governance.

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.