SITUATION IN MYANMAR'S RAKHINE STATE RETURNING TO NORMAL, SAYS FOREIGN MINISTER
Last Updated: 2012-07-31
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YANGON, July 31 (NNN-XINHUA) -- The overall situation in riot-hit Rakhine state in western Myanmar is returning to normal, says Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin.

He disclosed this here Monday at a press conference held on the occasion of a new visit to Myanmar by United Nations Human Rights Envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana, who was also present, under a revised schedule before travelling to riot-struck Maungtaw and Sittway of Rakhine state as well as Nay Pyi Taw, the national capiytal, in the next few days as arranged by the government.

"The government has exercised maximum restraint in order to restore law and order in those particular places in Rakhine state," Maung Lwin told the press conference, which also involved the ministers of immigration, border affairs, religious affairs and social welfare, relief and resettlement.

Maung Lwin rejected the accusation by some "quarters" of abuses and excessive use of force by the authorities in dealing with the situation, saying that "the unfortunate incidents are confined to a few townships in Rakhine state as it constitutes an inter-communal violence relating only to the some portion of the population in the state".

"In light of the true circumstances and situation, Myanmar totally rejects the attempts by some quarters to politicize and internationalize this situation as a religious issue," he stressed.

Noting that Myanmar is a multi-religious country where people of different faiths have been living together in peace and harmony for centuries, Maung Lwin maintained that the recent incidents which occurred in the Rakhine state were neither because of religious oppression nor discrimination.

The government had taken legal action against the perpetrators involved in the lawlessness and anarchist acts, he said, pointing out that "victims of violence were from both Buddhist and Muslim communities".

He also said the government had built 89 relief camps for 14,328 Rakhine ethnic people and 30,740 Muslim affected by the violence.

"As the situation of law and order in Rakhine state is improving, people sheltered in relief camps are gradually returning to the places," he disclosed.

He further revealed that the government, UNHCR, international NGOs are building hundreds of houses and sending tents for the victims with the World Food Program (WFP) supplying over 1,500 tons of provisions.

A series of bloody incidents, which took place in May-June, triggered deadly unrest and violence in the Rakhine state starting with Maungtaw township on June 8.

According to the foreign minister, 77 people from both communities were killed with 109 people injured. A total of 4,822 houses, 17 mosques, 15 monasteries and three schools were burned down.

The declaration of a state of emergency in the state along with imposition of curfew in six townships including Maungtaw and Sittway have been in force since June 10 until further noticed. -- NNN-XINHUA