Order Restored After Fresh Burma Religious Unrest

Security officials gather on Sunday, after members of a 1,000-strong Buddhist mob torched dozens of homes and shops in Htan Gone village, Sagaing Division, in this photo published by Ye Htut, the deputy minister of information. (Photo: Ye Htut / Facebook)

HTAN KONE – Authorities restored order in Burma’s northern Sagaing Division on Sunday after a Buddhist mob set fire to nearly two dozen Muslim-owned buildings and attacked rescue workers in the latest widening of sectarian violence in the former military-run state.

About 1,000 Buddhists, some carrying sticks and swords, attacked Muslim villagers in remote Htan Kone late on Saturday, destroying at least 20 homes and shops, according to witnesses and a government statement.

Police and soldiers arrived later and fired into the air to disperse the crowd, they said.

The violence in the rugged region about 665 km (410 miles) from the commercial capital, Rangoon, shows how far anti-Muslim anger has spread in the Buddhist-dominated country following spasms of unrest in northeastern Lashio in May, central Meikhtila in March and western Arakan State last year.

The Ministry of Information said the unrest followed the attempted rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man on Saturday. After the man was detained, about 150 villagers and three Buddhist monks gathered at the police station, demanding he be handed over to them, it said.

When the police refused, the mob rioted, destroying Muslim homes, throwing rocks at police and attacking firemen before authorities restored order by 3:30 am on Sunday, the ministry said.

Police sergeant Win Nyi told Reuters 12 people from the mob had been arrested. A Reuters photographer in Htan Kone said the village was tense on Sunday evening but the violence had subsided.

Witnesses said some Muslims fled to neighboring villages or sheltered in a Muslim school.

Saya Soe, 32, a Muslim villager, said houses were already burning by the time police and soldiers arrived. “The mobs stopped and went away only after midnight when the security forces fired four or five shots into the sky.”

Another Muslim resident, Azit Paing, said the cause of the unrest appears to have been an argument between a young Muslim man and a Buddhist woman, but he denied the man attempted to rape the woman.

Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims have threatened to undermine political and economic reforms the government initiated two years ago after half a century of military rule.

More than 200 people have been killed since June last year and 140,000 displaced. The vast majority of victims have been Muslim.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, a UN special rapporteur on human rights, said a 200-strong mob attacked his car during an Aug. 22 visit to the central Burma town of Meikhtila, where a wave of anti-Muslim riots in March killed at least 43 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut denied Ojea Quintana had been attacked and said the UN envoy mistook the crowd’s intentions.

7 Responses to Order Restored After Fresh Burma Religious Unrest

  1. The Man to blame is Thein Sein
    “Stitch In Time Saves Nine”
    Time for UN troops
    Where is Suu Kyi Aris
    Absent and Spechless…….

  2. Not for look up that after happening of anti muslism violence , goverment have to protect all citizen’s life , propertities and prevent thugs , take action hate speech fake monks and 969, but really goverment support , you are very shameful in world.

  3. Very effective Military thugs Govt. After nearly all Muslims houses and property were burned down, police forces and Military came to restore order. Same pattern fake rape case and fake insulted Monk case. But protest for land or farmers case, military and police used nerve and chemical gas. This is intentional reluctant to safe Muslims from hell of Buddhist fire and indirectly cornering the Human Right advocate DASSK.

  4. To prevent future sectarian unrest stiff sentences should be given to ANYONE who burn houses or commit murder. For burning of houses 20 years plus hard labour and for murder death sentence should be given so that it will deter people from doing these criminal acts. The punishment to be received should also be published for people will know what to expect if they commit these crime.

  5. How can we carry on with SEA Games to happen? The violence, no peacefulness, no security in the country. I am extremely concerned about SEA Games in December. The Government will definitely face so much troubles in December as International Community is also needed security and extreme protection. They cannot even protect own citizens. Let this happens throughout the year. It has been how many months violence is going on. One can judge that SEA Games will have more complicated situation faced. Even UN Human Right responsible person has to run to Nay Pyi Daw and he did news conference at the airport prior to his departure. You can see these inconveniency even though UN Human Right responsible person faced hard time. So let pray that SEA Games run smoothly with present situation. Over all the responsibility held on the President of the Republic of Union Of Myanmar. No one else.

  6. These problems are in every country….
    in pakistan , muslim mobs burned down 300 christian homes in jacob colony Lahore, the biggest city in pakistan, nobody took any action against it…

  7. In my opinion, any violence or conflicts should not be allowed to happen during interim period of the reforms. Tide security should be available in any part of the country. I can see that one hand is building the peace but the other hand is encouraging destructions by ways of violence and obstruction to create instability in the country. This shows that even though the top people are not united each other, arguments to get the power of the country, not following the leader of the country, creation of bad images in the country etc. Don’t forget, Myanmar is only started opening doors. Myanmar needs more stability and peacefulness to demonstrate the world that Myanmar is really changing. There are people who believe Nazi routes and Communist routes still. Democracy doesn’t encourage Discrimination and Bullying. But we still have these though. We must find the root cause “who started these” and the government must eliminate the people who started destructions of the government plans Peace and the Reforms. Looting, Burning houses, creating instability are not only actions of criminal but also destructions of peace process in the country. Does the law society protect any religion in the country? Don’t you think so? It is now nearly two quarters of this year 2013 since April. I could see that the government only handle after the destructions happened. No pro-active plans are available to protect the citizens regardless of race, gender, religion belief and the nationality. if the citizens are unprotected, don’t think about foreigners and their investments in Myanmar that they will be protected fully. The government is still inviting foreign investments to come, without handling these in proper manner. I am certain from the incident of UN Human Rights Officer’s experience, people may wake up whether it is worth investing in Myanmar or not. People use the law in their own hand as you can see from daily news and predictions. Because of this, people who wanted to sell the stories about Myanmar will be coming to the country I think.

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