Mandalay Police Arrest Five as Calm Returns After Riots

Myanmar religious violence

A Muslim looks down from the balcony of his home as police officers stand guard outside his house in Mandalay on Thursday. (Photo: Reuters)

MANDALAY — Police in Mandalay, Burma’s second-biggest city, said they had arrested another five people after sectarian violence in which a Buddhist and a Muslim died, but an overnight curfew and a heavy security presence appeared to have restored calm on Friday.

The clampdown followed two nights of violence starting on Tuesday when about 300 Buddhists converged on a tea shop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a Buddhist woman.

The quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein, which took office in 2011 following 49 years of repressive military rule, has struggled to contain outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence in which at least 240 people have been killed since June 2012.

Most of the victims have been members of Burma’s Muslim minority, estimated to be about 5 percent of the population.

An imam at Mandalay’s largest mosque told Reuters that the five arrested on Friday were Muslims, held after police searched homes nearby and found ceremonial knives.

“Police definitely know these are used for ceremonial purposes,” said Ossaman, the imam. “They were not breaking any law.”

A police officer confirmed the arrests but refused to provide further details and asked that his name be withheld as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The two men who died in the violence were killed in separate incidents. Family and friends said they had taken no part in the riots.

Police said 14 people had been hurt in the rioting and four had been arrested earlier, on Wednesday.

Anti-Muslim violence is not new in Burma. The former junta imposed a curfew in Mandalay after riots in the city in 1997 following reports that a Muslim man had raped a Buddhist girl.

But outbreaks of violence have become more common under the reformist government, which lifted restrictions on freedom of speech, including access to the Internet, which had previously been tightly controlled by the military.

3 Responses to Mandalay Police Arrest Five as Calm Returns After Riots

  1. Then again, who is behind all this 969 stuff and all this communal strife all across the state – which sets you thinking as:

    – The whole issue is planned with calculated moves for political gains
    – Religion is pushed up front to exploit majority Buddhist sentiments
    – The movement seems to have strong financial support
    – Killings, arson are ignored by the authorities
    – Old monsters stirring up trouble (ref: June 2, 2013: Sunday Times, Singapore)
    So, all these indicators point to: –
    Who else ? here is some hint>>
    >>>“You guys (MI personnel sic Gen Kyaw Win), don’t you argue with me again– On who did it ! I did it ! So, what?” – Gen Than Shwe(on De-Pe-Yinn massacre) >>

  2. The police as dutiful authority should make public the name and details of the persons and their actions involved in the riot. As citizens and also to stop any further deterioration, it is important that all the perpetrators involved in the riot must be brought to book irrespective of religious affiliation. The Irrawaddy posted pictures of bike riders, and there were also people who blared instigation from the mosque loudspeakers. They must all be brought to book and proper compensation should be given by the state authority to the innocent people who were murdered. This will stop further deterioration, or else, more violence and lack of rule of law will follow as dissatisfied people will increase in number. The state should conduct its legal actions with fear and favor to none.

  3. Using religion for political mileage is a double edged sword;it cuts both ways. One day the authorities will be unable to tame the monster they have created. Then the country will be in perpetual turmoil. If the army takes over again then we’ll be back to stone age. Just look at what they did to the country for 4 decades.

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