Death for 2 men in Myanmar murder-rape

2012-06-19 08:26
Buddhist-Muslim violence, which has left at least seven people dead and hundreds of homes torched since Friday, poses one the biggest tests yet for Myanmar's new government. (Kihn Maung Win, AP)

Buddhist-Muslim violence, which has left at least seven people dead and hundreds of homes torched since Friday, poses one the biggest tests yet for Myanmar's new government. (Kihn Maung Win, AP)

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Yangon - A court in Myanmar has sentenced to death two men in a rape-murder case that triggered a wave of communal violence in western Rakhine state, official media said on Tuesday.

A third defendant hanged himself in prison earlier this month, according to a brief report in the New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece.

In apparent revenge for the attack, a Buddhist mob beat 10 Muslims to death on 3 June, mistakenly believing the perpetrators were among them.

Since then, dozens of people have died in clashes between local ethnic Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya.

According to Amnesty International, no death row prisoner in Myanmar is known to have been executed since 1988.

Decades of discrimination have left the Muslim Rohingya stateless and viewed by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minorities on the planet.

Violence easing

About 800 000 of them live in Myanmar, according to the UN, mostly in Rakhine.

The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.

The New Light of Myanmar said on Saturday that 50 people had died with 54 injured between 28 May and 14 June in Rakhine, although the violence is believed to have eased since late last week.

The whole state is under emergency rule with a heavy security presence. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence, which saw many homes burned to the ground.

Myanmar's President Thein Sein has warned the unrest could disrupt the nation's fragile democratic reforms as it emerges from decades of army rule.

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