Specialised task force announced to combat religious violence in Myanmar

| Updated: Jul 18, 2016 19:34 IST

Naypyidaw, July 18 (ANI): The Myanmar Government has announced the launch of a crisis committee in an attempt to check extremism and hate speech, amid an upsurge in sectarian violence that saw two mosques destroyed by Buddhist mobs. President U Htin Kyaw announced the Emergency Management Central Committee charged with the task of preventing further racial or religious conflicts from flaring up in the country, reports the Myanmar Times. According to a statement issued by the President, Vice President Henry Van Thio will chair the committee and Union Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe will serve as the vice-chairman. The committee was given a 12-point mandate, with responsibilities including effective communication with government security forces and prevention of sectarian conflict. The committee will "make nationwide arrangements for stopping those who incite riots from behind the scenes", said the statement. It will also launch a media counter in order to combat incitement by media outlets and will form a counter-protest response team in order to limit instigation to violence through protests. President's Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said that the committee will act as a kind of first response unit if any unexpected conflict erupts in the country. Local rights groups welcomed the announcement of the new emergency committee, calling it a badly needed force in the country. However, some commentators also warned that the committee could infringe on human rights of the people. The move comes after the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee, who pushed the government for more effective measures to combat hate speech and incitement of violence against minorities. (ANI)