Optimism over lifting of emergency in Arakan, but problems remain

Optimism over lifting of emergency in Arakan, but problems remain

The outgoing government of President Thein Sein announced today that the state of emergency imposed on Arakan State has been lifted.

Emergency rule was first introduced in 2012 in response to violent clashes between the state’s Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims that claimed dozens of lives and destroyed entire neighborhoods and villages.

Dr. Aye Maung, the chairman of the Arakan National Party, said he welcomed the announcement.

“Our situation is good, [there is] no more violence. The two communities want harmony,” he said, adding that the people of Arakan State also hoped the lifting of the state of emergency would encourage economic growth in the area.

“They have no jobs, so they want to create new jobs, especially the current generation,” he told DVB on Tuesday. “[The two communities] have a common interest in economic [improvement].”

Under Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law, the Rohingya are not officially recognised as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. The United Nations regards them as one of the world’s most persecuted stateless minorities.

Last week, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR reported that around 25,000 Rohingya had recently returned to their former communities after spending most of the past four years in temporary camps set up to house those displaced by violence.

These recent changes have bolstered optimism among the Rohingya, but around 120,000 are still in camps and their lack of legal recognition in Burma remains an unresolved problem.

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It was also unclear whether the reduced military presence would also result in a lifting of curfews and other restrictions imposed on the Rohingya.

The announcement comes just days before a new government led by the National League for Democracy officially takes office.

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