04/05/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA - MYANMAR

Sumatra: eight dead and 15 wounded in clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims

Violence, which took place in a refugee center, triggered by the discovery of incidents in recent weeks in Meikhtila. The victims were eight Burmese fishermen, the injured belong to the Rohingya minority. Jakarta raises alarm over unabated exodus of Muslims from Myanmar.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least eight people are dead and 15 wounded following clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims in a refugee center for migrants near the port of Belawan, near the city of Medan, in the Indonesian province of Sumatra. The violence erupted after news reached the camp of the terrible events that took place last March in Meikhtila in the center of Myanmar, which have left dozens of casualties on the ground, as well as houses, shops and mosques devastated. The Buddhist-Muslim clashes in the center of the former Burma was also addressed by the Archbishop of Yangon Msgr. Charles Bo, who, at the Easter Vigil, launched an appeal for peace, now taken up by Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu youth movements.


According to reports from the Indonesian police, the clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims refugees in the center of Sumatra began at two o'clock this morning. Initial reports state that the dead are all Buddhists, while the 15 injured belong to the Rohingya Muslim minority, often the victim of persecution and abuses in Myanmar. Three other Buddhists escaped the onslaught.

From the initial reconstruction it seems that the 11 Burmese Buddhists were fishermen, were caught on the high seas and then stopped by the Indonesian Navy and held in the center. The Muslims instead are part of a group of at least 100 Rohingya refugees, who have fled Myanmar in search of political asylum from the authorities in Jakarta.

Endro Kiswanto, chief of police in the area, explains that the chaos began when the Burmese found out about the violence in Meikhtila, which caused a total of 43 dead and thousands homeless. Tensions rose until the two sides came to blows, with the authorities and security officials of the center unable to restore calm. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government leaders confirm that growing number of people belonging to the Muslim minority, who have left Myanmar to seek refuge overseas.

 

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