Seven Muslims Accused of Killing Monk Face Trial in Meikhtila

Motorcycles pass in front of a mosque that was torched during rioting in Meikhtila last month. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Seven Muslims suspected of killing a Buddhist monk in an up-country town in central Burma last month are on trial this week, according to local police.

An official from the No. 2 police station in Meikhtila told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the head of the station was the case’s acting plaintiff, adding that the suspects were arraigned on charges of murder, causing serious and fatal injuries, arson, and aiding and abetting crimes.

“Today we have a second court hearing. We can’t disclose any information about the case because it’s now in court questioning. The suspects have their own lawyers, too,” he said.

According to Burma’s Penal Code, the suspects could receive maximum sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty if found guilty.

Aung Thein, of the Rangoon-based Lawyers Network, explained that the way the court decides to consider the case would be important.

“For murder cases, the weight of the punishment will vary depending on the court’s consideration of whether the case is something that just happened in the course of the rioting [a crime of passion] or was intentional [premeditated],” he said.

Wunna Shwe, the joint secretary-general of Burma’s Islamic Council, said he did not want to comment on the case for fear that his words could trigger more unrest.

“We are worried and still living in fear because there are still some anti-Muslim campaigns around the country,” he told The Irrawaddy. “I don’t want to be problematic.”

On Monday, the district court in Meikhtila, a town 130 kilometers north of the capital Naypyidaw, held its first hearing on the incident that sparked inter-communal violence between local Buddhists and Muslims. The unrest was triggered by a dispute between merchants and Buddhist customers at a Muslim-owned gold shop in the town on March 20.

Witnesses told The Irrawaddy that a group of Muslims attacked a monk riding a motorbike later that day, and the Buddhist cleric died in hospital, unleashing mobs of angry Buddhists. The ensuing rioting killed more than 40 people and destroyed hundreds of homes across 11 townships in Mandalay Division and Pegu Division.

On April 11, the two owners and an employee from the gold shop were each sentenced to 14 years in prison for aggravated assault, robbery, attempted injury, and aiding and abetting crimes.

The police said the three Muslims convicted, as well as the seven suspects currently on trial, are among a total of 70 people, comprised of 28 Muslims and 42 Buddhists, who were arrested for their alleged roles in the riots.

According to government reports, 43 people were killed during three days of clashes in Meikhtila, while 86 people were injured and 1,355 houses, shops and other buildings were destroyed.

About 12,000 people, mostly Muslims, were displaced in the violence, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

According to Wunna Shwe, the displaced remain at five relief camps across the town, still unable to return to their homes after spending a month living in makeshift tents.

“The security said it’s just for security reasons. The other thing is there are children among the refugees. Now with back-to-school season just around the corner, I’m worried that those children won’t make it.”

The Irrawaddy reporter Sanay Lin contributed to this report.

20 Responses to Seven Muslims Accused of Killing Monk Face Trial in Meikhtila

  1. Muslims died, Muslims lost properties, Muslim women were raped and now Muslims face charges! This is not any justice, Burmese justice is another kind of crime.

    • My man, what do you expect from the government? The attack itself was programmed by the government and Wirathu was used to stir up the Buddhists to assimilate the Muslims from the soil of Burma. Do not expect justice. If you do, you will be like a dog waiting for the elephant’s penis falling for food. It will never happen. If you are not bankrupt mentally, you might see what happened to the Kachins in the past few months. The Kachins are one of the founding members of the Union of Burma. But, when the Kachins ask for food, the Burmans give put bullets in their heads. When the Kachins ask for freedom, the Burmans give them death. This is the Burmese way of life. They always enjoy making troubles and problems. They always enjoy causing pain to others. They will never be trustworthy people. If you trust them, you dig your own grave, man.

      • @Shwe Ba …. I hope you are not lumping all Burmese people together with those who are perpetrating various crimes against other ethnic people. As with most peoples of various nationalities and different ethnicities there are good Burmese as well as bad and there are also good and bad Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs

        I am sure you know that Burma has been under successive corrupt, totalitarian, military dictatorships for the past fifty years or so. They have not only brutalized the ethnic minorities they have also oppressed their own people and used every available method to keep themselves in power all through the years.

        These people, who are still in power only now they wear civilian clothes instead of military uniforms, are the ones who are committing and encouraging these heinous acts against us, the oppressed citizens. We are all citizens of Burma whether you are Kachin or Shan or Burman; Buddhist or Muslim or Christian. Let us not give them fuel by fighting against each other … we must stick together to fight the real enemy which is the Burmese Government.

      • Isn’t there conscience among the majority Burmese population. How can they live with this kind of injustice. Today they are safe and having delights watching the innocent Muslims miscarried by court. But tomorrow they will suffer by their own brothers, by their own courts. Burmese judicial system is founded upon the principles of injustice. Be careful my Burmese friends, though, I am not Burmese, but I have conscience.

    • Muslim women were raped? Where did you get this from?

  2. Muslims affraid to comment for backlash. Burma justice is swift for criminal. Muslims have to suffer more. Shopkeepers got long sentences.Now more mulsims to face for monk killing. The monk who killed innocent mulsims are free. Because they are monks and Buddhist. This is the Justice in Burma for minorities. .

  3. The world body must monitor closely. I am not a Muslim. However, I feel so sad that the victims are victimized twice under the rule of superior minded Burmans. The Muslims got assaulted. Many Muslim lives were lost. Many of their houses were torched. Mosques were set on fire. Their shops were destroyed and looted. In self defense, Muslims killed a few Burmese(may include one monk or may be fake monk). But thousands of criminals are still roaming free while the victims(Muslims) are charged and tried in court. Is it what we call “Democracy”? Where is justice?

  4. Muslims , who dared killing of monk in a mosque, in the heart land of Buddhist Majority country? Well, I understand why Buddhists can not be survived in Islamic countries not only living status but also their ancestors’ constructed Buddha Statue also, Like in Afgannistan.

    • Do you want to join the Talibans? They are outcast. If the Burmese way of defending Burma and Buddhism like the Talibans, go ahead and do it. You will be an outcast too. Wirathu claimed himself as Burmese Bin Laden. And you can claim yourself as BurmeseTaliban too.

    • The phantom of Afghanistan has perverted your mental order my friend. So, you want to turn out Burma as Afghanistan. Yes, and there is no doubt that your “democratic” government has succeeded your wishes.

      • muslims are killing monks like they kill people in afghanistan..somalia,sudan etc etc .in afghanistan even donkeys are used for suicide bombing,,what a country ..? what kind of people are living there..? Myanmar is a much much better place…

        • Boteng, your shallow ideas lead you to generalize “Muslims” for killing monks like they kill people. As if, there are no crimes, no killing, no looting in any other county of the world except the Muslim countries. But, I am happy to see you writing “Myanmar is a much much better place”. Your countryman khun min want to turn Myanmar into Afghanistan. In response to the Afghan fundamentalist, he is trying to become a much more heinous fundamentalist. You help him to make Myanmar into a much much more more better place, rather than being a reciprocal of Afghanistan by killing innocent Muslims.

  5. All lies and injustice. The international community, the UN, ASEAN, US and EU are quiet. Shame on those authorities. EU lifted sanctions due to its trade interest in Burma.
    Muslims got brutally beaten, burnt to death, raped and got robbed. The so called fake monk Wirathu and his mafias are roaming free. BBC has showed the inhumane act of riot by Burmese Buddisht. Muslims are still living in fear. There is no rule of Law in Burma any more.

  6. Who is Responsible for TEN Muslim,Travelling in Arakan by bus, from Rangoon and Myaung Mya; lynched and killed in Arakan.
    No one in Custody?
    No one Accused?
    No one Suspected?
    What a Shame?
    Where are The Investigators………
    Thein Sein’s Irresponsible Remarks,
    Created Hatred and Forstered further Killing, Rape and Arson in Meikhtila.
    or shall we say PREMEDITATED!

  7. If anyone committed crime, he/she must be punished. But not only Muslim but Buddhist who committed crime also must be punished. If police does not have evidence, they can take from youtube/face book etc.

  8. Shame shame the world has witnessed the atrocities against innocent Muslims. Well done BBC. Burmese Buddisht all over the world got humiliated by this video. Who is responsible? If there is no justice then radicalisation follows.
    Terrorist Wirathu and his co accomplish are still active. Thein Sein is quite.
    Thousands of Buddisht Burmese are working and earning abroad, many in Muslim gulf countries. Even in Malaysia they are safe.

  9. Only one monks death by accident,probably infighting, Muslim have no such courage to kill monk.already three Muslim victim sentenced long term charged for murdered, even victims didn’t commit the many Myanmar Muslim killed, burnt alive by Buddhist thugs and monks,how many monks and thugs charged for crime they committed.iam sure nobody charge for thousand of Muslims lost life.according Burmese law of jungle penal code, all innocent Muslims are criminals ,all Buddhists criminals are victims .

  10. I am not a Muslim but if Myanmar is to be a Democratic country everyone is to be treated equal under the Laws of the country be it Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian. The people who killed Muslims should also be given sentences according to the Penal Code, NO ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW, NOT EVEN THE MONKS.

  11. TheBurmeseFreedomFighter

    Hey!!!!!! We all have to stands for
    the freedom of speech — as opposed to Islamic prohibitions of “blasphemy” and “slander,” which are used effectively to quash honest discussion of jihad and Islamic supremacism;

    Hey!!!!!! We all have to stands for
    the freedom of conscience — as opposed to the Islamic death penalty for apostasy; and

    Hey!!!!!! We all have to stands for
    the equality of rights of all people before the law — as opposed to Sharia’s institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims.

    Hey!!!!!! We all have to stands for the freedom of Burma from Islamization.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  12. Friends, who raped, killed and robbed a Rakhine Buddhist woman in Rakhine state? Who after Friday prayers led fanatic muslims to kill, rape and torch Maungdaw town and dozens of villages around as a scorched earth policy? The rape and robbery and murder of a Buddhist Rakhine woman was not done by rohingyas, but the Rohingyas started the wholesale destruction of the western part of Myanmar. Still you call them as peaceful and the victim? As sensible readers, all of the Irrawaddy readers must be sensible, and know what is right from the wrong and demand justice for all the wrong done. You all must remember, as peace-loving citizens the Muslims of Burma must recognize the dignity of the Burmese women, they must understand the religious, cultural and human values of the majority people of Burma, the Muslims of Burma should understand that their kind of Jihad or hate for the Qafir or Kafir or non-believers of Islam must stop, and if the majority people feel offended, they are the ones to suffer before the government or any other forces in the world come to their rescue. In this matter the media including the Irrawaddy, BBC, DVB, and all others must know that the Burmese Buddhists are not to be blamed alone, please highlight how the Muslims in Burma act, and why they have been the first-strikers and perpetrators. Bad people can either be Buddhist or Muslims – and they must all be brought to book.

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