Violence in Burma’s Rakhine state results in a state of emergency

Monks in Rakhine during less violent times

A state of emergency was declared in the northwestern Burmese state of Rakhine on Sunday after violence between Buddhists and Muslims left at least 17 dead. The clashes are between Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship in Burma, and Rakhine Buddhists, the state’s largest minority group. According to Voice of America, “The riots began after 10 ethnic-Rohingya Muslims were mobbed and murdered by ethnic Rakhines, in retaliation for the gang-rape of a Rakhine girl. “

The violence has left many wounded, with rioters setting fire to some 500 homes in the state on Friday and Saturday, according to the New York Times. President Thein Sein announced the state of emergency in Rakhine on national television on Sunday, where tension has been mounting in recent months. The Rohingya Muslims make up one of the largest groups of “stateless people” in all of Asia, with living conditions akin to refugee camps.

You can read more on this story in a piece by Thomas Fuller over at the New York Times.

(Photo by Daniel Julie via Flickr, using a CC-BY license.)