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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    11 June 2012

Myanmar President declares emergency in Rakhine state

11 June 2012

Myanmar President Thein Sein has declared a state of emergency in the western state of Rakhine, where sectarian tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have unleashed deadly violence, reports said.

In a nine-minute speech televised nationally yesterday, Thein Sein said the violence in Rakhine was being fanned by dissatisfaction among various religious and ethnic groups, hatred and the desire for vengeance.

"I would like to call on the people, political parties, religious leaders and media to join hands with the government with a sense of duty, to help restore peace and stability, and to prevent further escalation of violence," he said.

The order was effective "until further order", and was "intended to restore security and stability to the people immediately", state television said.

"The unrest and terrorist acts have been increasing," it added.

A state of emergency effectively allows the military to take over administrative functions for Rakhine, a coastal region that borders Bangladesh.

Earlier, Myanmar state media have warned of "anarchy" and a spiral of retaliation after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims on Friday and Saturday.

Hundreds of Buddhist villagers' homes have been set ablaze and left seven dead in Rakhine.

Official media said 17 people were also wounded and nearly 500 houses destroyed, prompting authorities to deploy police and military units to bring an end to the unrest.

According to reports, the cycle of apparent revenge attacks began with rumours about the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman.

Over a week ago, an angry Buddhist mob, mistakenly believing the perpetrators of the rape were on board a bus, beat 10 Muslim passengers to death.

A second wave of violence swept through remote villages early Saturday, as more ethnic Rakhine homes were torched forcing villagers to flee to temporary shelters in Maungdaw town, according to government officials.

In some circumstances, Rohingyas burned their homes themselves and fled by boats.

“The threat of Rohingyas cannot be totally controlled until now. They are attacking the villages. As soon as the security forces move to another place, the rioters stepped forward for attack,” said a local resident in Sittway.

Authorities have imposed curfew this afternoon in some Arakanese towns to control the violence.Nevertheless, any report has not come out yet whether Bengalis were injured by the security forces.

Local Rakhine people criticise that the members of security force are not sufficient to prevent from the attacks of Rohigyas, and suggested to suppress the rioters effectively.

Rescue camps are now packed with increasing number of Rakhine ethnics and some of them are fleeing from their homes to other secure places.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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