Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-08-26
Members of a 1000-strong Buddhist mobs in Burma have gone on the rampage in a new wave of anti-Muslim violence. The mob attacked and torched Muslim homes and shops in the Asian country, spreading fears of repeated sectarian violence.
The Information Ministry said the latest round of violence was triggered by a report that a Muslim man attempted to sexually assault a Buddhist woman in a village at Kanbalu in the central region of Sagaing.
A regional police official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday “About 150 people gathered at the police station last night (Sunday), calling for them to hand over the detainee.”
“When police did not respond, they started setting fire to nearby shops,” the official added.
State television reported that about 42 houses and 15 shops were burned and destroyed, most belonging to Muslims.
The predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million has been grappling with sectarian violence since the country’s military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government in 2011.
The unrest which has killed more than 250 people and left 140,000 others displaced began last year in the western state of Rakhine, where nationalist Buddhists accuse the Rohingya Muslim community of illegally entering the country and encroaching on their land.
The violence, on a smaller scale but still deadly, spread earlier this year to other parts of the country, fueling deep-seeded prejudices against the Islamic minority and threatening Myanmar’s fragile transition to democracy.
Almost all of the victims have been Muslims, often attacked as security forces stood by.
Radical Buddhist monk Wirathu blamed Muslim for the unrest in a message on his Facebook page, using term “kalal”; a highly derogatory word, to describe the minority.
“Kalars are troublemakers. When a kalar is there, the problem will be there,” he said.
Calling himself as Buddhist Bin Laden, Wirathu’s anti-Muslim and nationalist speeches have been accused of stoking the unrest.
Hundreds homeless after latest Myanmar communal unrest
YANGON — Muslims displaced by Myanmar’s latest eruption of religious violence picked through the charred remains of their shattered homes as police patrolled the streets Monday, amid concern over spreading unrest.
Hundreds of people were made homeless after about 1,000 anti-Muslim rioters rampaged through villages in Kanbalu, in the central region of Sagaing, on Saturday evening, setting fire to Muslim property and attacking rescue vehicles with catapults.
“It is going to be very difficult to rebuild our houses again. Some people are taking refuge in nearby homes or with relatives,” said 40-year-old Muslim Aung San, who was displaced in the unrest.
Myint Naing, a local MP for the opposition National League for Democracy party, told AFP that 160 men and 158 women who had lost their homes had taken shelter in a school.
“They had been living peacefully for many years and this is the first time they saw violence,” he said, adding that the situation was now calm.
Attacks against Muslims – who make up at least four percent of the population – have exposed deep rifts in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, overshadowing widely praised political reforms since military rule ended in 2011.
Legislators from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) warned in a statement that Myanmar was “on the precipice of widespread inter-communal conflict.”
Myanmar was not doing enough to stop hate speech, they said.
“The deep underlying tensions are clear for all to see and we feel that the authorities are not reacting sufficiently to what is developing into a perilous situation in Myanmar,” said Indonesian MP Eva Kusuma Sundari of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
A local photographer in Kanbalu told AFP that clashes had ended in the early hours of Sunday, but fires sparked by the riots burned until Sunday evening.
Some 250 police were deployed in the area as well as military personnel, he said. — AFP