Last Updated: Tue Aug 07, 2012 09:46 am (KSA) 06:46 am (GMT)

France calls on Myanmar to protect Muslims after new deaths

The Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar has long complained of discrimination in land rights, education and public services. (AFP)
The Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar has long complained of discrimination in land rights, education and public services. (AFP)

France called Monday for Myanmar authorities to protect civilians of all ethnic groups “without discrimination” after reports of renewed deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.

“France attaches great importance to a peaceful and concerted resolution to ethnic questions in Burma, in order to achieve national reconciliation,” foreign ministry deputy spokesman Vincent Floreani said in a statement.

The ministry called for the status of Muslims in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state “to be clarified with regard to right to nationality and for them to enjoy, whatever their status, full respect for human rights.”

“There are reports of worrying acts of violence by security forces against civilians. We call on the Burmese authorities to protect all civilian populations, without discrimination, and to investigate possible abuses,” Floreani said.

Fighting in western Rakhine state has killed 80 people from both sides since June, with six reportedly killed on Sunday, although authorities say the situation has been generally calm in recent weeks.

The violence initially broke out in June following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.

The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.

Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

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