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Friday, Jul 25th

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Burmese Vice-President visits Maungdaw

Burma’s Vice-President, Sai Mauk Kham, Armed Forces Advisory Officer and Deputy Defense Chief of Staff arrived in two helicopters to Alay Than Kyaw, Maungdaw, in the morning.

The vice-president claimed the purpose of the trip was to assess the situation on the ground and distribute aid in the aftermath of the worst violence in decades between Buddhists Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas, in early June.

But many suspect his visit, which came after a trip by UN Human Rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana, was politically motivated after the government was accused of siding with Burmese Arakanese.

Several prominent international rights groups have criticized security forces for targeting Muslim Rohingyas in the wake of the violence which resulted in the deaths of many people and the displacement of thousands.

Human Rights Watch released a report on August 1, alleging government security forces have undertaken systematic abuses against Rohingya Muslims, including murder, rape, beatings, arbitrary arrest and other abuses.

In a statement released on July 27, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also said Muslim communities in Arakan state may have been targeted by security forces.

The government said that 77 people died and 109 were injured during the violence which broke out in early June, but many think the death toll is much higher. Eyewitness reports that have emerged in the weeks following the violence claim hundreds of  Rohingyas have been killed, raped, beaten and arbitrarily arrested by security forces.

Furthermore, much of the aid distributed to help the victims of the violence hasn’t reached Muslim communities.

According to a member of the village administration office, the vice-president met with the Burma Border Security Force (Nasaka) in area number 7 and Natala ( New settler) where he gave  500,000 kyat for families in the village. But he didn’t meet with Rohingyas in Alay Than Kyaw or provide them with any relief.

After leaving Alay Than Kyaw he flew to Nyaung Chaung Natala village and stayed for 5 minutes before leaving for the predominantly Muslim township of Maungdaw in northern Arakan state. The vice-president also visited Bomu village where there are some Rohingya residents. But he didn’t visit any of the other communities in the surrounding areas.