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Myanmar president warns of using force in last resort to suppress riot


11:24, March 29, 2013

YANGON, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar President U Thein Sein Thursday warned of using force in last resort to suppress the current riot in the country and protect people's lives.

"In general, I do not endorse the use of force to solve problem. However, I will not hesitate to use force as a last resort to protect the lives and safeguard the property of general public," U Thein Sein said in his special speech to the nation through radio, clarifying his stance on the recent violence in the country started in Meikhtila and spread to several other places.

"We did not resort to the use of force immediately mainly because we do not want toils any possible endangerment of our ongoing democratic transition and reform efforts," he said.

He stressed that the government is firmly committed to using the power vested by the constitution to deploy security forces and to protect the life, liberty and security of citizens with the framework of the existing laws.

He urged people to cooperate with each other on the basis of compassion, tolerance, open-mindedness and empathy.

He called on the police force to perform their duties decisively, bravely and within the constraint of the constitution and by-laws in the implementation of rule of law.

He expressed sadness that a simple private dispute led to such deadly violence and those instigators attempted to exploit the situation to stir up violence in other parts of the country.

Noting that Myanmar's constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to worship freely, he warned "all political opportunists and religious extremists who try to exploit the noble teachings of these religions and have tried to plant hatred among peoples of different faiths for their own self-interest that their efforts will not be tolerated."

He vowed to take all necessary and effective actions to stop their operations in accordance with the constitution and existing laws, warning that all perpetrators of violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Recent series of riots were sparked by a brawl between buyers and sellers over a bit of gold clip at a gold shop in Meikhtila on March 20. So far 40 people were killed and 39 others injured with 152 houses, one education office and 13 religious buildings burnt and 2 motor vehicles and three motor cycles destroyed.

A state of emergency was imposed on Meikhtila on March 22. With the intervention of the army, the situation there has started to return to normal.

However, the riot later spread to Yemethin and Tatkon in the same Mandalay region and then five townships in west of central Bago region -- Gyopingauk, Minhla, Okpho, Nattalin and Zigon where dusk-to-dawn curfew (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) have been imposed since March 26, banning people from gathering, making speech, and staging procession and demonstration.

Meanwhile, Myanmar police force said they had arrested 50 suspects linked with Meikhtila, Yemethin, Okpo and Zigon riots.

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