UN finds ‘state involvement’ in Myanmar disturbances

Updated 30 March 2013
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UN finds ‘state involvement’ in Myanmar disturbances

GENEVA: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar human rights said Thursday he had received reports of “state involvement” in some of the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the former army-ruled nation.
At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Myanmar since fresh sectarian strife erupted on March 20, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas.
“I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement.
He also pointed to “instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well-organized ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs.
“This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”
According to the statement, Quintana also received information indicating that the military and police may be arbitrarily detaining people based on religious and ethnic profiling.
“The military and police must now be held to account for human rights violations committed against ethnic and religious minorities,” he said.
Quintana also called on the government to take “immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process.”
“This includes stemming campaigns of discrimination and hate speech which are fuelling racist and, in particular, anti-Muslim feeling in the country,” he said.
His comments come after Myanmar President Thein Sein vowed a tough response to religious extremists in a national address.
According to the United Nations, the recent clashes, which were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into a riot, have seen some 12,000 people displaced.
It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
Myanmar’s Muslims — largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the population of roughly 60 million.


US targets airlines in latest Iran sanctions move

Updated 14 min 53 sec ago
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US targets airlines in latest Iran sanctions move

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on several Iranian and Turkish companies and a number of aircraft in a move targeting four Iranian airlines.
The companies targeted were linked to Mahan Air and Meraj Air, the US Treasury Department said in a statement. It also said it was targeting a number of their aircraft, as well as aircraft from Caspian Airlines and Pouya Air.
The United States said the two airlines had ferried weapons, fighters and money to proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Washington also threatened sanctions for others granting landing rights and providing services to the aircraft.
"The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and US goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The sanctions were the latest in the United States' efforts to economically strangle Iran with the hopes of blocking the country's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Earlier this month, the United States withdrew from a 2015 nuclear accord that had lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program, dismaying US allies.
On Tuesday, the United States imposed sanctions on five Iranians it said had provided Yemen's Houthi movement with weaponry and expertise to launch missiles at cities and oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.