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Muslims And Buddhists Burn Down Homes And Kill Each Other In Myanmar

An injured Rakhine Buddhist is taken to the hospital following violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar.
Khin Maung Win
An injured Rakhine Buddhist is taken to the hospital following violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

New sectarian violence is erupting in western Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, between Buddhist Rakhinese and Rohingya Muslims. It's turned very deadly: reports say more than 100 people from both groups are dead and 1,000 homes have been burned down.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in Rakhine state, according to CNN. It's the worst ethnic violence to break out there since June when clashes between both sides killed about 90 people and demolished several houses.

The enmity between Myanmar Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims stretches back decades. The U.N. says the Rohingya are effectively stateless. Despite the fact they make up nearly all of the northern part of Rakhine state's population, Myanmar authorities refuse to recognize them, because they're considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

They can't go back to Bangladesh, either, where they're denied citizenship. But many Rohingya are still trying to enter the country and get into refugee camps, says the AP. There may be more than 75,000 people crammed into them because the Myanmar government can't find a way to stop the explosive violence between the Rohingya and the Buddhists, other than keeping people apart.

The ethnic strife could be an image problem for Myanmar, notes the Wall Street Journal. Islamic nations are watching the fighting. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation tried to start an assistance link to the Rohingyas, but Buddhist monks vehemently protested; Myanmar then blocked the OIC's outreach.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.

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