Alleged rape sparked fatal Myanmar brawl

2013-04-12 14:02
A Myanmar army soldier sits on the back of a truck after the army took control of the ruined central city of Meikhtila following days of clashes. (File, AP)

A Myanmar army soldier sits on the back of a truck after the army took control of the ruined central city of Meikhtila following days of clashes. (File, AP)

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Jakarta - A fatal brawl between ethnic groups from Myanmar in an Indonesian detention centre was triggered by the alleged sexual assault of three women of the Muslim group, police said on Friday.

Eight Myanmar Buddhists were killed in the fight that broke out with members of Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority in the overcrowded centre in Belawan, North Sumatra on 5 April, a police report said.

National police spokesperson Boy Rafli Amar confirmed the report's findings. "The Belawan police forces are still investigating the case," he told dpa.

A leader of the Rohingya group reported the alleged assaults on the women to a warden on Thursday, but the Buddhist alleged perpetrators were only slapped and verbally reprimanded, the report said.

The Buddhist group, which had been detained for illegal fishing in Indonesian waters, retaliated but was outnumbered when violence broke out, and eight of them were killed, it said.

North Sumatra police have named 20 of the Rohingyas as suspects in the fight, while 15 injured detainees were being treated at a hospital in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province.

167 dead and 125 000 homeless

According to the report, the police confiscated makeshift weapons made from pieces of furniture, a knife, a screwdriver and pliers apparently used in the fatal clash as evidence.

In Myanmar, clashes between Buddhist and Muslim communities have claimed more than 200 lives since last year.

On 20 March, 43 people were killed and 86 injured in the centre of the country, around 120km south of Mandalay, in rioting that was sparked by an argument in a gold shop.

In May, clashes between Buddhists and Muslims of the Rohingya ethnic minority in the western state of Rakhine left at least 167 people dead and an estimated 125 000 homeless.

Indonesian police have called for separation between Rohingyas and Buddhists from Myanmar at a number of detention centres in the province, and increased security at the Belawan centre.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters that a number of detained Rohingyas were awaiting assessment of their refugee status by the UNHCR.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  myanmar  |  indonesia  |  religion

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