The UN has warned that Myanmar’s fledgling democracy could be “irreparably damaged” by the violence.
Rohingyas are officially stateless. Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s government regards the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in the country as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and not as one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups, and denies them citizenship.
Many of those expelled from Kyaukpyu are not Rohingya but Muslims from the officially recognized Kaman minority, said Chris Lewa, director of the Rohingya advocacy group, Arakan Project.
“It’s not just anti-Rohingya violence anymore, it’s anti-Muslim,” she said.
It was unclear what set off the latest arson and killing that started on Sunday last week. In June, tension flared after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman that was blamed on Muslims, but there was no obvious spark this time.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International have called on Myanmar to amend or repeal a 1982 citizenship law to end the Rohingyas’ stateless condition.