Connect with us

World

Phuket Gazette World News: Myanmar violence spreads; tourists hostage in Egypt; Aus Labor in turmoil; Iran preps for polls; Atheists abandoned

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Myanmar riots stoke fears of widening sectarian violence
Reuters /Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in central Myanmar has reduced neighbourhoods to ashes and stoked fears that last year’s sectarian bloodshed is spreading into the country’s heartland in a test of Asia’s newest democracy.

Buildings in Meikhtila were still burning early yesterday and agitated Buddhist crowds roamed the otherwise near-deserted streets after three days of turbulence, said Reuters reporters in the city 540km north of the commercial capital Yangon.

Five people, including a Buddhist monk, have been killed and dozens wounded since Wednesday, state media reported. Other authorities put the death toll at 10 or higher.

The unleashing of ethnic hatred, suppressed during 49 years of military rule that ended in March 2011, is challenging the reformist government of one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries.

Jailed dissidents have been released, a free election held and censorship lifted in Myanmar’s historic democratic transition. But the government has faced mounting criticism over its failure to stop the bloodshed between Buddhists and Muslims.

“I am really sad over what happened here because this is not just happening to one person. It’s affecting all of us,” said Maung Maung, a Buddhist ward leader in Meikhtila.

Hundreds of Muslims have fled their homes to shelter at a sports stadium, said local officials. The unrest is a bloody reprise of last year’s violence in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, which officially killed 110 people and left 120,000 people homeless, most of them stateless Rohingya Muslims.

Burning mosque, armed residents

Locals complained there were too few police in this city of about 180,000 people to subdue the unrest. It erupted after an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a gold shop spiralled into a riot involving hundreds of people, said police.

Reuters saw some Meikhtila residents arming themselves with knives and sticks in an eerie echo of the Rakhine violence in 2012, when pitched battles between the two communities later morphed into orchestrated attacks on Muslim communities by organised gangs of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

The United Nations warned the sectarian unrest could endanger a fragile reform programme launched after Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government replaced a decades-old military dictatorship in 2011.

“Religious leaders and other community leaders must also publicly call on their followers to abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace,” Vijay Nambiar, U.N. special adviser of the secretary-general, said in a statement.

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, but about 5 percent of its 60 million people are Muslims. There are large and long-established communities in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s two largest cities, where tensions are simmering.

“Everyone is in shock here. We never expected this to happen,” said a Muslim teacher in Mandalay, requesting anonymity.

Rumours that violent agitators were heading for the city had set its Muslim community on edge, he said. Buddhist monks known for their anti-Islamic views last year staged several street protests in Mandalay.

In Meikhtila, at least one mosque, an Islamic religious school, several shops and a government office were set alight, said a fire service official, who declined to be named. Reuters saw both Buddhist and Muslim homes burned.

Sectarian unrest is common in central Myanmar, although reports were stifled under the military dictatorship.

Three people died in Sinbyukyun in 2006 when Buddhists attacked homes and shops belonging to Muslims and ethnic Indians, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable.

“The incident reveals underlying tense inter-ethnic relations in the heartland,” said the cable, which also referenced similar communal riots in Kyaukse, a town near Meikhtila, in 2003.

Australia’s Labour roiled by resignations after failed leadership coup
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard faced a string of ministerial resignations yesterday in the wake of a botched leadership coup against her, forcing a reshuffle of her Labour government just months from potentially disastrous elections.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he would step down, joining departing Cabinet colleagues Simon Crean and Chris Bowen, as well as junior minister Kim Carr. All had backed Gillard’s chief rival Kevin Rudd as the party’s best hope to reverse polls pointing to a thrashing by conservative opponents at the September 14 elections.

“I have a view it’s the only honourable thing to do. I would have voted for Kevin Rudd yesterday and Simon Crean to try and give this party a fresh start,” an emotional Ferguson told reporters at parliament in Canberra.

The political unrest in the country threatens to cloud decision making with elections just six months away and as the minority government readies to take leadership of the G20 and after Canberra became a rotating United Nations Security Council member.

Gillard stamped her authority on Labour by being re-elected unopposed after Rudd conceded he did not have the numbers to topple her after a tumultuous day of backroom plotting that will do even more damage to the government’s fading popularity.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, widely derided by voters despite having steered the Group of 20 wealthy nations member through the last financial downturn with 5.4 percent unemployment and a 21st year of unbroken economic growth, was re-elected as Gillard’s deputy.

Crean was sacked immediately by Gillard on Thursday for backing Rudd in what newspapers called a political “suicide bombing” that appeared to have delivered no gains for Labour except the near-certainty of a thumping election defeat.

Talent drain

Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former prime minister ousted by Gillard in 2010 amid another round of plummeting polls, said on Friday he would never again run for the leadership – unless it was already vacant.

“I don’t think it’s worth raking over the coals. What’s done is done and let’s get on with the future,” Rudd said. “It’s really important that we bind together and that’s what the Australian people expect of us.”

Bowen, one of Rudd’s key backers and a former immigration minister, said he would also quit, stripping Gillard’s top ranks of another of its most effective political talents.

Ferguson, in particular, had been an influential advocate for the country’s mining industry and helped broker a 2010 deal with major resource companies including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to abandon a damaging campaign against a mining profits tax introduced by Labour and later watered down.

Gillard, the plain-speaking daughter of Welsh migrants, has consistently failed to arrest a slump in opinion polls, which predict a major defeat in September with Labour losing about 20 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

But she attempted to draw a line under the divisions and concerns about her leadership, extending a press conference at a road construction site north of Sydney on Friday to face down questions from journalists about the government’s stability.

“This issue is over and done with. This issue has been resolved for all time, and I think Kevin’s stateme

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Indonesia16 mins ago

Over 350 vaccinated medical workers in Indonesia infected, dozens hospitalised

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Nightlife businesses petition government to reopen, sell alcohol

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Koh Larn 70% vaccinated as Pattaya eyes reopening

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Economy13 hours ago

BMA extends permits for street vendors to 2 years for stability

Phuket15 hours ago

Expats in Phuket without a work permit can register for a Covid-19 vaccine

Environment15 hours ago

Tar balls wash ashore on several Phuket beaches

Thailand15 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Private vaccines, PM promises to re-open Thailand, Phuket Sandbox | June 17

Thailand15 hours ago

2 dead following truck crash

Thailand15 hours ago

Outbreaks at factories rise, operators ordered to file Covid risk assessment

Thailand16 hours ago

Prayut going to Phuket, see if it’s Sandbox ready

Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

Chulabhorn Royal Academy details Sinopharm vaccine insurance

Thailand17 hours ago

Thai-English auto-translate down on Facebook due to “technical issues”

Best of17 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Phuket

Crime17 hours ago

Famous/infamous murder suspect out on bail wins lottery

Thailand18 hours ago

Police arrest 2 men for allegedly trying to extort 2 million baht from a man

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending