Three Rohingya die in clash with Myanmar security forces

Updated 06 June 2013
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Three Rohingya die in clash with Myanmar security forces

YANGON: Three Muslim Rohingya women have been shot dead in a confrontation with security forces at a camp for displaced victims of sectarian violence in western Myanmar, police said Wednesday.
Several episodes of deadly communal unrest have tempered international optimism about the country’s dramatic political reforms as it emerges from decades of harsh military rule.
The latest bloodshed happened on Tuesday at a camp at Parein in Rakhine state after some Rohingya refused to move to new shelters provided by the authorities, local police officer Maung Maung Mya told AFP by telephone.
“The three died as warning shots were fired,” he said, adding that four others were injured.
“They think they will lose their own land if they are moved to the new shelters. So they don’t move.”
The incident came as hundreds of world leaders, business chiefs and media began arriving in Myanmar for the World Economic Forum on East Asia — a chance for the former pariah to showcase its economic and political reforms.
Up to 140,000 people — mainly Rohingya — were displaced in two waves of sectarian unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine last year that left about 200 people dead.
Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. They are considered by the United Nations to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
A government official in Rakhine confirmed the three deaths, accusing Rohingya camp dwellers of attacking security forces because they were unhappy with the new shelters. It was not possible to verify his account.
“The security forces there had to fire back because they cannot control the violence,” he said.
Thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar in rickety and overcrowded boats since the Rakhine violence erupted last year. Scores have died making the perilous journey south toward Thailand and Malaysia.
Human Rights Watch in April accused Myanmar of “a campaign of ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya, citing evidence of mass graves and forced displacement affecting tens of thousands.
The government has rejected the allegations.
Religious unrest has also broken out elsewhere in the ethnically diverse country, with dozens of people dying in violence in central Myanmar in March that mainly targeted Muslims.
Another outbreak of sectarian strife in the eastern state of Shan last month left at least one dead.
President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government has surprised the world since coming to power two years ago with dramatic political and economic changes that have led to the lifting of most Western sanctions.
Hundreds of political prisoners have been freed, democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi has been welcomed into a new parliament and tentative cease-fires have been reached in the country’s multiple ethnic civil wars.
But some rights groups argue that the religious violence shows the lifting of the sanctions was premature.


Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

Updated 23 May 2018
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Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

CHENNAI: Outrage swelled Wednesday over the deaths of 10 protesters at a rally over a copper plant in southern India, after police opened fire on demonstrators in what critics termed “mass murder.”
Violence erupted Tuesday in Tamil Nadu state at a long-running demonstration demanding the closure of the smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources which residents say is causing environmental damage.
The state’s chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.
M.K. Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party the DMK, said police were guilty of “atrocities.”
“Mass Murder of Innocent People,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?“
A video of a police officer on top of a bus and pointing an assault rifle at crowds has fueled fresh anger.
Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths “a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism.”
“These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice,” he said.
Police said Tuesday that 12 people had died but later revised the toll in the port city of Tuticorin.
P. Mahendran, superintendent of Tuticorin district police, said 18 officers were also wounded in the clashes.
“The situation is tense but under control today,” he said. “The post mortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today.”
The plant, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently closed as Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper subsidiary seeks a new license so it can be expanded.
The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.
Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of several thousand with a baton charge and tear gas volleys failed before authorities used live ammunition.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.
“The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence,” he said.
The families of each victim would be offered one million rupees ($14,700) compensation, he added.
The deaths came on the 100th day of demonstrations against the plant, which environmentalists and residents claim is contaminating water sources — a charge the company denies.
The protests intensified after Vedanta, owned by an Indian billionaire but with its head office in London, sought to double the 400,000-ton annual capacity of the plant.
It was shut briefly after an alleged gas leak in March 2013 that left hundreds with breathing difficulties, nausea and throat infections.
The company maintains that it adheres to environmental standards and said it was the victim of “false propaganda” about its operations.
Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most industrialized and prosperous states and similar protests over environmental concerns have turned deadly in the past.
Tuticorin witnessed violent demonstrations in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighboring Kudankulam district that left one person dead.