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ICC Note: The desperate situation of the Rohingya people is clearly due to severe discrimination against this ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar.  Finding an immediate humanitarian solution to this crisis requires all parties to overcome long-held fears and prejudices – please pray to that end. 

By John Zaw

06/03/2015 Myanmar (UCA News)

Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar have raised concerns over the government’s hosting of boat people as more than 700 rescued by the navy arrived in Rakhine state on Wednesday.

U Than Tun, a community leader in Sittwe, Rakhine state, said that the navy brought ashore 727 boat people to Maungdaw township in Rakhine state on Wednesday.

Women and children have been sent to Taung Pyo Let Waa village, near the border, where the 200 Bangladeshis rescued last month have been kept. The men would be sent to a separate area in Maungdaw township and the process of nationality verification carried out for all.

U Than Tun warned that the arrivals could lead to protests and “anger” from the majority-Buddhist Rakhine community.

“We strongly call on the government to repatriate the first group of 200 boat people as soon as possible as 700 more people arrived in Rakhine, prompting much concern and anger among the Rakhine community,” U Than Tun told on Wednesday.

Local officials from Rakhine state couldn’t be reached for comment.

Rakhine state has been on edge since 2012 when religious conflict between majority Rakhine Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims left more than 200 people, mostly Muslims, dead, and more than 140,000 people displaced.

Ashin Tilawkar Bhivamsathe, chair of the committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion known as Ma Ba Tha, sent a statement to the president on Tuesday calling on the government to think about the long term situation for boat people and to send them back to sea after providing aid by replicating Australia’s controversial push-backs.

“Myanmar has already hosted 200 Bengalis rescued and brought to Rakhine that can’t be sent back to their home. Every racial and religious conflict erupting in Myanmar stems from accepting non-Buddhist and non-Myanmar people,” said the statement.

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