Skip to main content

Myanmar sets up commission to probe clashes between Buddhists, Muslims

By Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 8:31 PM EDT, Sun August 19, 2012
  • The June clashes leave at least 62 people dead in Rakhine
  • Myanmar's president highlights the need to form an internal commission
  • The commission consists of various groups, including activists and entrepreneurs
  • The international community has welcomed the nation's political reforms

(CNN) -- Myanmar has formed an internal commission to investigate the recent sectarian violence that killed dozens in the western part of the country, state media reported.

The June clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine killed at least 62 people and displaced thousands.

President Thein Sein's commission is made up of various groups, including activists, officials from minority parties, entrepreneurs, government leaders and religious leaders, The New Light of Myanmar said Saturday.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded the move.

Suu Kyi's 'ambitious' plan for Myanmar
Myanmar erupts after rape, murder report

"This commission is comprised of a representative cross-section of national figures in the country," Ban said in a statement. "It could make important contributions to restoring peace and harmony in the state and in creating a conducive environment for a more inclusive way forward to tackle the underlying causes of the violence, including the condition of the Muslim communities in Rakhine."

The international community has welcomed Sein's commitment to introducing political reforms in Myanmar since assuming leadership last year.

Sein has highlighted the need to form an independent commission that does not include foreigners.

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims erupted after police detained three Muslim men in relation to the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman in May. Two of the men were sentenced to death, and a third man committed suicide in detention.

News of the crime may have motivated several hundred people to attack a bus in Rakhine in June, killing 10 Muslims onboard, state media said.

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims spread across the northern part of the state, resulting in the destruction of thousands of homes, according to the government.

The national government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine, bringing in the military to help restore order.

Rakhine is home to the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority group that says it was persecuted by the Myanmar military during decades of authoritarian rule.

At the height of the violence, hundreds of Rohingyas tried to cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh to flee the sectarian violence.

But Bangladeshi authorities have turned them back, saying they already have too many Rohingya refugees.

The unrest has tested the efforts of Sein's administration to seek reconciliation with Myanmar's different ethnic groups and move the country toward more democratic governance.

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.