Before Obama visit, group warns ethnic violence could destabilize Myanmar
November 12, 2012 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
Sectarian clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims continued on Friday, October 26, 2012.
- A nonprofit group is warning ongoing violence could destabilize the country
- The clashes are between majority Buddhists and a stateless ethnic Muslim group
- Scores have been killed in clashes in recent weeks
- Roughly 110,000 people are displaced
Hong Kong (CNN) -- As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Myanmar next week, a nonprofit group warned violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the west of the country could destabilize the nation just as it is emerging from decades of military repression.
Obama is set to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Myanmar, providing a powerful endorsement of the Southeast Asian nation's efforts to move toward greater democracy under President Thein Sein.
But his arrival follows months of turmoil in the western state of Rakhine, where tensions between the majority Buddhist community and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group, boiled over into clashes that have killed scores of people and left tens of thousands of others living in makeshift camps.
Read more: What a difference a year makes in Myanmar
The Rohingya, most of whom don't have Myanmar citizenship, appear to have born the brunt of the violence. The situation has ominous signs for Myanmar and its complex ethnic makeup, according to the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization that provides analysis and advocacy on conflicts around the world.
Behind the violence in Myanmar
Buddhist vs. Muslim unrest in Myanmar
"The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern," the group said in a report released Monday. "And there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface."
Myanmar's displaced detail violence
The bloodshed and upheaval of recent months have left the Buddhist and Rohingya communities in Rakhine "essentially segregated," the report said.
A failure by authorities to address the deepening divisions between the communities could result in a resumption of violence in the future, the report argues, "which would be to the detriment of both communities, and of the country as a whole."
Read more: Q&A: What's behind sectarian violence in Myanmar?
Citing government figures, the United Nations says at least 89 people have been killed in violence in Rakhine in recent weeks and 110,000 people are now displaced. The deaths come on top of dozens of others during clashes in May and June.
Some Rohingya have tried to flee into neighboring Bangladesh, but many have been blocked at the border. Bangladeshi authorities say that the more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees already in the country are as many as they can deal with.
The risk for Myanmar authorities, according to the International Crisis Group report, is that the unrest in Rakhine could spread to other parts of the country.
"All the large cities have significant Muslim minorities," the report says. "And if the violence in Rakhine State evolves into a broader religious conflict, with communities turning on each other across the country, it could be a source of major instability and a serious threat to the reform process."
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories