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Rights groups want access to Rakhine state

Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:20 AM

BANGKOK, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Rights monitors said they were "begging" for international observers to visit Myanmar to get a first-hand account of communal violence in Rakhine state.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that at least 76 people were killed, thousands of homes and religious sites were destroyed and tens of thousands of people were displaced as a result of fighting between Muslims and Buddhists in the region.

"We are begging international observers to come and witness what is actually happening -- to stop the violence and attacks on innocent civilians," Mohammad Nawsim, secretary of the Rohingya Human Rights Association, told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN.

The government in Myanmar, through its official New Light of Myanmar news agency, said the situation in Rakhine was "put under control." At least 1,000 people have been arrested since June in connection with the violence.

Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said there should be "unfettered round-the-clock international access" to the region. Human Rights Watch said fighting has led to the destruction of the coastal village of Kyaukpyu populated by Muslims in Rakhine.

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