Calm Restored as Security is Beefed Up in Arakan

By Nyein Nyein 29 October 2012

Calm has been restored to western Arakan State after a significant increase in security forces in the streets of affected towns and villages, according to state media on Monday.

The New Light of Myanmar reported that after one week of clashes between Arakanese Buddhists and Muslims, the region “is under control and back to stable [sic] over the weekend.”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Zaw Htay, the director of the President’s Office in Naypyidaw, said there are now 5,000 police officers deployed, as well as 1,000 border security forces, commonly known in Burma as the nasaka. The Burmese army has a total of 51 battalions—approximately 10,000 troops—in the region.

According to figures stated in The New Light of Myanmar, 2,950 houses, 14 religious buildings and eight rice mills were razed to the ground during last week’s riots. Eighty-four persons have been confirmed dead, while 129 have been hospitalized. The violence raged across nine townships from Oct. 21 to 27.

Security measures were increased to avoid further conflict, the media said, adding that security personnel will focus on relief and rehabilitation work for the displaced victims of the riots and violence.

The New Light of Myanmar said that mobs who were torching neighborhoods were dispersed by the security forces, including the use of tear gas in Kyauktaw.

The state media reported that 71 percussion-lock firearms were seized and suspects arrested in three villages—Lathsaungkauk, Pikethe and Taungbway—in Kyauktaw Township on Friday. It was also reported that legal action has been taken against 1,058 people over the past four months when the communal strife began.

The latest clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims occurred in Minbyar and Mrauk-O townships on the night of Oct. 21, then escalated quickly to Kyaukpyu, Myebon, Rathedaung, Pauktaw, Kyauktaw, Thandwe and Ramree townships. About 20 villages and more than 10 neighborhoods or quarters in those nine townships were affected.

“The government is now working on the relief effort, providing food assistance and healthcare to the victims of the crisis,” said Zaw Htay.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press has reported that the UN has increased its estimate of displaced persons from the recent violence to no less than 28,000.