Security forces should remain in parts of northern Rakhine State to deter the possibility of more violence, the Venerable U Wirathu told Mizzima on March 12.

U Wirathu was speaking to Mizzima in a telephone interview during a visit to the state, where he visited three camps for displaced Rakhine Buddhists to campaign in support of a proposed inter-faith marriage ban.

“The security forces and police stationed in the northern regions should not be removed yet,” U Wirathu said.

“If there is no security personnel there, conflict could break out again.”

On previous visits to the state, U Wirathu had met Islamic leaders to discuss how Buddhists and Muslims could live peacefully in the community.

But U Wirathu said the focus of his current visit was to meet Rakhine Buddhists and discuss how they should safeguard their religion.

Asked about the venerable monk’s comments, Rakhine State government spokesperson U Win Myaing said the Ministry of Home Affairs was responsible for security in the state.

“If there are not enough police for some regions, the military is there to help,” U Win Myaing said.

“But there is no plan to assign military forces round the clock.”

U Wirathu’s comments came a day after a commission appointed by the government to investigate reports of deadly violence in Du Chee Yar Tan village in Maungdaw Township earlier this year released its findings to the public.

Among the commission’s recommendations was that the capacity of police in Rakhine be upgraded and that they be issued with modern weapons, that security forces be deployed in numbers appropriate to the population and that roads be upgraded to facilitate a rapid response in the event of emergencies.

The commission, which said it found no evidence to support claims by the United Nations that dozens of Muslims were killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village in January, also recommended that eligible members of the Islamic community be granted citizenship under relevant provisions of the 1982 Citizens Law.

It also called for measures to build confidence between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in the state, where outbreaks of communal violence since June 2012 have left about 140 people dead and more than 140,000 homeless.