Police Fire on Buddhists on Ramree Island

Displaced Arakanese taking shelter in Mrauk-U on Sunday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

Tensions are rising amongst the Arakanese population of Ramree Island’s Kyauk Ni Maw Village after security forces fire into protesters on Tuesday resulting in one death and one injury.

Thousands of Ramree Island residents, as well as the ethnic Arakanese from nearby Manaung and Taungup townships, gathered in Kyauk Ni Maw to demand extra security and moving Muslims away from Buddhist neighborhoods.

A 55-year-old man was killed while a 42-year-old man was injured when soldiers and police fired on protesters, claim local residents. “The injured man was wounded in his thigh and brought to Ramree Hospital,” said a Buddhist man who asked to remain anonymous.

“The security forces told protesters not to cross the lines where they were standing in front of the Muslim communities,” he said. “We would not enter the Muslims communities. We just call for separating [Muslims] from us as it is no longer possible to stay together in the same community.”

Kyauk Ni Maw was the starting point of the ongoing Arakan State sectarian violence that first erupted in June after a Buddhist girl was allegedly raped and murdered by three Rohingya men. Ten Muslims pilgrims were then beaten to death in Taungup in a revenge attack before an Islamic mob ran riot after Friday prayer services in Maungdaw Township, northern Arakan State, on June 8.

Arakanese protesters called for the relocation of Muslim communities from near the only market in Kyauk Ni Maw. Buddhists complained about having to pass Muslims neighborhoods when they come to trade goods and that their security could not be guaranteed since the communal strife began.

Arakan State spokesman Win Myaing told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he had not yet received any reports from the area, but added that Arakan State Chief Minister Hla Maung Tin, together with government ministers and police officials, are visiting townships across western Burma. They are currently in Thandwe City, south of Ramree Island, which has a near-equal Muslim and Buddhist population, added Win Myaing.

On Monday, a Burmese military battalion arrived in Kyauk Ni Maw Village after the government decided to deploy more security forces in fragile areas where simmering tensions remain. A total of 51 battalions, more than 5,000 police and 1,000 border security force officers (Nasaka) have been deployed across Arakan State.

According to government figures, 2,950 houses, 14 religious buildings and eight rice mills were razed to the ground during last week’s riots. Eighty-eight persons have been confirmed dead, while 129 have been hospitalized as violence raged across nine townships from Oct. 21 to 27.

More than 40 houses in Ramree Township’s sixth quarter were among those set ablaze, according to the government. Local Buddhists accused Muslims of setting fire to their own houses and then running away. “We had to kill the fire so it does not spread to our houses, which are built next to Muslim houses in the same community,” said an anonymous source.

Most of those displaced by the renewed violence are once again Muslim Rohingyas who are now seeking shelter at displacement camps. United Nations figures indicate that 32,000 people have lost their homes in the latest violence.

Although the vast majority of victims are Rohinyga, several thousand displaced Arakanese are currently seeking shelter in monasteries or at the homes of relatives.

Six out of nine townships—Minbya, Mrauk-U, Myebon, Kyaukphyu, Kyauktaw and Rathedaung—are opening temporary camps for the latest refugees. More than 1,000 displaced Arakanese are currently sheltering at three monasteries in Mrauk-U, around 190 people from 42 torched houses are at temporary camps in Myebon and around 150 are at a camp in Kyaukphyu.

In Minbya Township, where renewed clashes recently broke out, 657 houses in six villages have been burned down. A local police officer said 4,270 displaced Muslims are currently taking shelter at a temporary camp there.

6 Responses to Police Fire on Buddhists on Ramree Island

  1. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    This is my first glimpse of Irrawaddy coverage with its own picture on the hard reality of suffering of Rakhine people at the hand of Burmese Military during its crack down on communal riots in Burma. However, Irrawaddy didn’t  quote the 55 years old shot dead as Buddhist Rakhine, but just Rakhine ethnic man, a revelation of its stand on communal riots. 

    Should the man shot dead be Muslim in the military crackdown, it would have been quoted so differently about his religion, Muslim. It would have been less difficult in handling the riots if religions are not twisted in this ongoing immigration issues, a piece of identity paper millions of the Burmese origins in the border area do not have regardless of what religion they belong to.     

    Manipulation of this ongoing riot by different groups including Muslim extremist, Burmese Military, medias and INGOs is undeniable, seeking to their own hidden agenda before the lives of the people. There are thousands of issues arising as conflicts during this reform process to democracy: all of those do not come up as national or international level, but communal riots in Rakhine State of Burma does. 

    The whole nation of Burma has to be very careful about these communal riots as the fight of people against the tyranny is not over yet. The history of ours has shown us again and again how unreliable the military is when it comes to getting what it wants; they would do anything by any means, including selling the whole nation. On that ground, Rakhine State becomes nothing for them in an exchange for absolute power in their hands. 

    That is why all of our eyes have to be wide open with extreme vigilance in holding our strategy to win over tyranny that might also includes swallowing unfairness, and loosing apart of our land to Bengali aliens. Now we know where we are, what we want, and face with this reality of the worst dirty trick of this military hardliners. 

    If we opt non-violence in this fight, we must occupy all the streets of Rakhine through peaceful demonstrations, demanding separation of rival community. In the mean time, all of the Rakhine in the Muslim dominated communities have to move out of those unsafe locations to the safe area; if required, demand for designated safe area where all the venerable Rakhine can move in. 

    Don’t go and stay in the houses of relatives, friends or Buddhist temple since your situation will go unnoticed to do so. Otherwise; no matter what you do, let it be defending your own safety or reacting to any unfairness by all of the above mentioned narcissistic organizations, you are to blame by the international community, to be manipulated by your own tyrant that will lead to your internal bleeding – death.  

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  2. Having read the numerous comments left by pro-arakanese and so-called burmese freedom fighters, it occurred to me that the rhetorics and violenece  used by them (e.g. illegal immigrants. bengali in deragatory manner,terrorist etc.) are the same rhetorics used by neo-nazis, skinheads and white supremecist groups against minority communities in europe, australia, united states, and canada. I wonder how the burmese would feel if their fellow compatriots  abroad were abused and attacked like the rohingyas in burma. To the hate groups these burmese immigrants are illegal and subhuman and don’t deserve to be in a white mans land. Something for these burmese freedom fighters to think about…..

  3. I hope we all become one in LOVE and DIGNITY one day.

  4. If the Burmese and Arakanese think they will keep driving away all the Muslims from the land, they are looking for bigger trouble than they can imagine.

    Now it is clear that the two, who are the internationally acclaimed for permitting them to rape the country, as well as virulent sounding monks  are not likely to mediate or help to integrate the previously living together communities, the nation urgently and desperately need true champions of peace on both side to avert abysmal chaos and anarchy where there will be NO winners.

    Current government action, which as usual gained  enthusiastic endorsement and support by the nominal, legitimizing token opposition of the answer based on the formula “more guns equal more peace” is not only intellectually bankrupt ( accepting that a lot of  Nobel Peace Prize winners -Mandela, Obama, etc.- are sworn believers and practitioners of violence) but also alarming.

  5.  Muslims are in conflict worldwide with other religionists and thats a fact

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