Myanmar lifts state of emergency in Rakhine

In a surprise move on Tuesday, Myanmar’s outgoing president Thein Sein lifted a state of emergency in the restive western state of Rakhine, imposed after clashes between Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims in 2012.

YANGON // In a surprise move on Tuesday, Myanmar’s outgoing president Thein Sein lifted a state of emergency in the restive western state of Rakhine, imposed after clashes between Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims in 2012.

Thein Sein announced the move just a day before a president from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party will be sworn in at an official handover.

The 2012 unrest in Rakhine left scores of people dead and tens of thousands of Rohingya confined to miserable displacement camps.

While there have been no major clashes in the state in the last two years, most Rohingya remain trapped either in camps or in heavily regulated areas near the border with Bangladesh.

“It is found from the report by the Rakhine state government that the situation in Rakhine state can no longer pose dangers to the lives and property of the people,” said the order signed by Thein Sein.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya remain stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. They are denied citizenship and have long complained of state-sanctioned discrimination.

The government has denied discriminating against the group. It does not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic minority and instead classifies them as Bengalis. Most Rohingya reject the term and many families have lived in Rakhine for generations.

“We think the situation [in Rakhine] is good. But any politician can see that Rakhine state is very sensitive and it would be easy for it to explode at any time,” said Aye Maung, chairman of the Arakan National Party (ANP), which represents ethnic Rakhine Buddhists. The party has been accused of stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and has called for the deportation of Rohingya.

Rohingya were denied participation – both as voters and as candidates – in the November 8 general election, which the NLD won by a landslide. Before the election, religious tensions were high, with the NLD deciding not to field a single Muslim candidate on its lists of more than 1,100 hopefuls.

The Rohingya are widely disliked in Myanmar, where they are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh – including by some in Ms Suu Kyi’s party. She risks haemorrhaging support by taking up their cause.

The NLD faced protests by ANP lawmakers in the Rakhine state parliament on Monday over the NLD’s decision to appoint a candidate from its own party to be the state’s chief minister.

Around 18 ANP lawmakers, many wearing black stickers on their jackets, walked out of the parliament.

Still, lack of fighting means that some 25,000 Rohingya have left camps for displaced people and returned to the communities, the United Nations said last week, with the number of people in camps down to around 120,000 from 145,000.

It is not clear what is behind the lifting of the state of emergency by Thein Sein. The former general has steered Myanmar’s dramatic reforms since 2011 but has also presided over growing Buddhist nationalism.

“If you are going to leave you might as well take credit for it and the consequences will be left to the next government,” said political analyst Khin Zaw Win.

* Reuters, Agence France-Presse

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The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.

Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.