Hundreds of Muslims in Western Burma Relocated

Policemen stop civilians at one of the road blocks that surround Aung Mingalar, Sittwe’s last Muslim quarter, which is home to 6,500 people. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Hundreds of Muslims trapped in ghetto-like conditions in western Burma after their homes were torched by Buddhist-mobs last year were moved Saturday to a camp for internally displaced people, officials said.

Government spokesman Win Myaing said the relocation from Aung Mingalar quarter in Sittwe Township was voluntary. But one well-known activist said many of the families were worried their conditions would go from bad to worse once they left.

Burma, a predominantly Buddhist country of 60 million, has been gripped by religious violence since military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government.

The unrest began last year in the western state of Arakan—home to Sittwe—where Buddhists accuse the Rohingya Muslim community of illegally entering the country and encroaching on their land. The violence then spread on a smaller, but still deadly scale to other parts of Burma, leaving more than 250 people dead—most of them Muslims—and sending another 140,000 fleeing their homes.

More than 5,700 people have been living in Aung Mingalar, a Muslim quarter in Sittwe that spans several blocks, since violence broke out in June 2012, with storefronts shuttered and police with assault rifles blocking entry and exit.

Win Myaing said 577 people who moved into the neighborhood after losing their houses to mob violence were relocated to camps outside of Sittwe on Saturday, with more relocations planned for Sunday. He said new shelters had been built for them.

Thousands more, who didn’t lose their homes, will remain in Aung Mingalar, he said.

“This is a voluntary relocation,” Win Myaing said. “We discussed it with them one day ahead of the move.”

Shwe Zan Aung, a Muslim elder from Aung Mingalar who is among those who will stay, agreed.

“There were 5,700 Muslim people in Aung Mingalar, but about 1,144 people lost their homes during violence last year,” he said.

But Aung Win, a well-respected Rohingya activist, said many were very unhappy about leaving, worrying that they will lose their support system and access to food rations.

3 Responses to Hundreds of Muslims in Western Burma Relocated

  1. How many times have I told you, Irrawaddy, that this is NOT a “religious” conflict. It resulted from those Bengalies all the time plotting against the native populace, intentionally multiplying their population, keeping sneaking in to our country, and those Bengalies who are already here, always helping those illegal immigrants – a very disloyal act to our country amounting to treason. And there are many such deceitful and clandestine activities that they have been doing against us.
    Now Thanks to you, Irrawaddy, their biased media supported with oil-rich money from the Arab world, has been branding this as “religious or sectarian violence” very much to the happiness of their terrorists groups.
    Hey, Irrawaddy, you should be ashamed of yourselves!
    And please adopt another name like Bengali’s Voice or something like that instead of Irrawaddy, which refers to our blood line, that has been supporting our lives, our culture and our nation for millenniums.

  2. Fifty Four Islamic Nation
    Crime Against Humanity in affect in Burma
    Shame! Shame!

  3. 154 non islamic nations could’nt be bothered, other than watching the 10 or more Islamic Nations doing a better job with WMD’s amongst themselves.
    Or is Muslim Slaughtering Muslim an acceptable pastime, not a crime!!!

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