Burma’s quasi-civilian government has been hit by allegations of “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes against humanity” this week as Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report into the sectarian violence that ravaged the country’s western Arakan state last year. At least 200 people were killed and more than 125,000 made homeless as mass arson, looting and cold-blooded murder erupted between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Muslim Rohingya. HRW accuses Rakhine groups of instigating the bloodshed and the state authorities of allowing them to continue unabated. Fresh and seemingly unconnected Muslim-Buddhist violence then hit elsewhere last month, posing serious questions regarding the state’s ability — or willingness — to maintain order as the country emerges from half a century of brutal junta rule. The report was released the same day that the country’s President, Thein Sein, was awarded a peace prize by the International Crisis Group, and the E.U.
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