Muslim leaders in Myanmar have criticized state officials for failing to act against deadly attacks on country ' s Muslims, blaming security forces for standing by as assailants go on rampage.
" These violent attacks include crimes such as arson and massacres which deserve heavy penalties, " four groups, including the Islamic Religious Affairs Council and the Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Organization, wrote in an open letter sent to President Thein Sein on Tuesday.
“However, in this situation the authorities neglected to take swift and effective action against the perpetrators who recklessly committed crimes in front of them, " they complained.
The letter further called on the government to take "quick and effective action" to ensure "the protection of the lives, properties and religious buildings of Muslim communities across the country." At least 40 people have been killed in central Myanmar after a fresh wave of attacks against Muslims broke out on March 20, prompting government officials to impose emergency rule and curfews in several areas. The new escalation of violence against the country’s Muslim population saw mosques burned, houses razed and charred bodies left lying in the streets, in what many witnesses described to a large extent as part of a well-organized campaign. Vijay Nambiar, the UN's top adviser on Myanmar who toured the violence-hit town of Meiktila on Sunday, agreed that “much of this violence was planned” and called on the government to punish those responsible for the tragedy. Myanmar's government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the country’s Muslim community, known as Rohingyas. Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands of others displaced in attacks by Buddhist extremists, who frequently attack the Muslim community and burn their homes in the state of Rakhine.