Myanmar Buddhist mobs attack foreign aid workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2014, 11:38pm


Buddhist-led mobs tore through streets hurling stones at the offices and residences of international aid workers in Myanmar's western Rakhine state yesterday, prompting the evacuation of some staff members.

There were no immediate indications anyone was hurt in the violence, which started in the state capital, Sittwe, late on Wednesday and picked up again early yesterday, with angry crowds swelling in size from several hundred to more than 1,000.

At least one building was looted and three cars damaged.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011. But newfound freedoms of expression that accompanied its transition to democracy have given voice to religious hatred, causing violence that has left up to 280 people dead and 140,000 homeless.

Most of the victims have been members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, many of whom have lived in the country for generations but are denied citizenship.

Aid groups providing care for the displaced have faced threats and intimidation. Last month, Doctors Without Borders, one of the biggest lifelines for the displaced, was expelled from Rakhine state in part because its staff included Rohingya.