Violence Spreads to Villages Near Burma’s Biggest City

A young Muslim boy runs through the ashes of his village in Kyawe Poan Lay, Okkan township, which was razed by a Buddhist mob on Tuesday evening. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

OKKAN — At least one Muslim village was set alight on Wednesday evening as violence continued to spread in Okkan Township north of Rangoon and Burma’s latest round of anti-Muslim violence claimed its first casualty.

The violence in Okkan on Wednesday followed a day of attacks on Muslim communities on Tuesday, when four villages were razed and a number of Muslims attacked with machetes and sticks.

Zaw Zaw Naing, a Muslim from Okkan who was badly beaten by a Buddhist mob on Tuesday, died at Rangoon Hospital on Wednesday. Nine injured Muslims from Okkan remain in hospitals in Rangoon, Taik Kyi and Okkan townships.

“We did not do anything wrong to the Buddhists,” Moe Kyaw, an elderly Muslim man who was wounded in the head and hands by a Buddhist mob, told The Irrawaddy from his bed in Okkan Hospital. “But they tried to kill my whole family.”

At least two mosques and two madrasas have been destroyed since Tuesday along with more than 100 houses. In Kyawe Poan Lay village, The Irrawaddy can confirm at least 49 houses, a mosque and a madrasa were destroyed on Tuesday.

Police deployed to the scene of the attack shortly after the blaze started in Wang Kit village at about 6pm on Wednesday and a fire truck was sent to the scene.

The situation was palpably tense in Okkan on Wednesday. The army was deployed to razed villages alongside the dozens of police brought in from Rangoon on Tuesday. Along the maze of dust tracks that lead to the villages from the main highway through Okkan, Buddhist mobs stood a menacing guard.

One group stopped The Irrawaddy car to inspect its contents. “Do you have any Muslims inside,” a red-eyed youth barked as he stuck his head through the open window.

The violence in Okkan was sparked on Tuesday when a Muslim woman bumped into a novice monk, spilling his food and breaking his alms bowl. Local Buddhists were angered when the woman, who is now in police custody, refused to apologize.

Police detained 18 people who were arrested on Tuesday night. A police investigation is underway, Rangoon deputy police chief Thet Lwin said, and more arrests will follow.

Thet  Lwin said the violence was carried out by locals.

“They are all residents from Okkan. The rioters are not from other towns,” he said, adding that the mobs were “terrorists,” who would face justice.

Anti-Muslim violence in central Burma in March claimed the lives of at least 43 people and more than 12,000 were displaced. But so far the only people to face jail terms have been Muslims. The traumatized Muslim residents of Okkan are hoping for more than that.

Moe Kyaw and three members of his family were attacked when two mobs of about 100 Buddhists flanked them, cutting off their escape route. His two sons were badly wounded by machete.

The Buddhist mob “entered our house in two groups, from two different sides,” Moe Kyaw said. “My family was trapped and they attacked us with large knives.”

Wang Kit was also attacked on Tuesday and several villagers were injured.

Win Cho, a young woman injured in the attack on Wang Kit, said: “I was trying to rescue some belongings from my house when I was hit by a slingshot and went unconscious for 15 minutes.

“I know all of the people who attacked my house and they are still free. There is no rule of law in this country.

“I was born here and I don’t know where to go. It would be better to die than live like this. Who can we trust to protect us?”

20 Responses to Violence Spreads to Villages Near Burma’s Biggest City

  1. Act of barbarian and fanatic mob , that will tarnish the image of religion and country.

  2. Thein Sein is a coward and is also behind this atrocities. He will pay heavy price one day. God is great. Buddisht thugs are showing their true colours. Shame on these fake monks.
    The international community is silence. What a shame.

  3. Good news. Muslims in UK are urging its community to unite and boycott Burmese Goods and foods. Particularly Fish products.
    Very soon Burma will get effected by this action. Wait and see. Time will tell.

    • No problem! Chinese will buy everything as usual!
      That is not the solution! The government needs to find out the root of the problem to protect the people with rule of laws!

      • Your beloved “Government” IS the problem. They are the ones instigating and systematically planning the massacres and unspeakable atrocities and protecting the sadistic butchers

  4. Enforcing the law after violence strikes is not rule of law. Government is supposed to keep peace and tranquility in the land. Solving problems after they happened is what the current regime is doing. Why can’t the regime provide peace for all citizens? We are worrying that the Union of Burma is becoming the land of hate and bitterness among different ethnics. Thein Sein is so useless or the one who is behind the curtain is trying to cause huge trouble?

  5. The poor peasants are probably starving. Hypoglycaemia has a tendency to cause aggressive behaviour. My guess is food prices are rocketing and the minimum wage is stagnant.

    It is going to be interesting to see how these troubles progress once the bidding for the offshore blocks is finished. China wants the oil and gas and the USA wants to extract it. Myanmar is only a conduit. Whilst China may not want Chaos on its doorstep a US proxy is neither appealing.

    Of course fragmentation of Myanmar could result in a new USA aligned nation running down the coast which n doubt could gain all the maritime rights previously ascribed to Myanmar.

    Welcome to the nation of ExxonMobil and adjoining city states of Woodside, Chevron, Caltex and Statoil. I heard they are developing a glitter strip!

  6. In Boston, three suspects have been arrested to day. One suspect was captured dead but four are now in US custody. Why are the Muslims the most hated people on earth? They cause endless troubles everywhere in the world. There might be some decent Muslims but no Muslim can be trusted since most terrorism is committed by the Muslims. Some Muslims put video records from brutal crackdowns on democratic movement in the time of Than Shwe and they Muslims tried to lie the world that those video records were committed by the Arakanese on them. Many of the stories in you tube posted by Muslims are just lies and cheats. If they keep behaving like this, no one on earth will want them to be their neighbors. I myself do not trust them and believe whatever they say. Because I see them as evil and liars.

  7. As a Burmese Buddhist, I am ashamed and as Burmese Buddhists, we all should really be ashamed for what is happening in Burma right now. It’s not once, not twice, it’s happening repeatedly and above all with no discernible reasons.

    The latest event in Okkan, Rangoon Division, is much bothering which can be described only as hate crimes. When there was a minor traffic accident involving a Muslim woman and an 11-year old Buddhist novice, someone unnecessarily went to the police to report a criminal case and “bloodhounds” from the town went on berserk demolishing or burning mosques, shops and houses. At the same time, they looted shops owned by Burmese Muslims.

    First of all, please let me state that in many developed nations, parents will be punished with prison terms if they leave an 11-year old kid alone at home. And all their kids will be taken away so that they will never see their sons and daughters again. If young kids were left unattended at home, leave alone to go out and ask for alms in the town, authorities regard the parents or caretakers unfit to have children.

    On the other hand, kids are kids. People who have children know how an 11-year old child would behave, no matter whether he is a schoolboy or a novice monk. It is irresponsible to blame the Muslim woman saying in a comment that “it looks like she intentionally hit the Monk” without seeing or knowing the actual incident. It is more probable that the lady couldn’t avoid hitting the young monk as he made a sudden mistake on the street not knowing the traffic rules. Children and old people often make erroneous crossings on the roads. That was only a negligible accident in which he wasn’t injured either. I am of the opinion that people exaggerate the incident with loose tongues blaming the woman as unapologetic and rude. My question is why was a child monk with a bowl on the road without any supervision? If it were a car, he could have been killed.

    I agree with Sai Lin Kan when he commented in a previous report that “Buddhist Burmese is less tolerating in religion insult since Rakhine communal riot.” What I have learned in Buddhism is that Lord Buddha was neither afraid nor angry when he dealt with a serial killer “Angulimala” and seducing three daughters of Mara, “Seinnamana”. He calmly and patiently tamed the troublemakers. However, many Burmese people who boasted as devout Buddhists are bloodthirsty and neither calm nor patient nor tolerant not polite nor reasonable nor peaceful nor loving nor and nor and nor. What we used to say, like Buddhists don’t kill even mosquitoes, become a joke now.

    I wish all citizens of Burma to be able to live freely, peacefully and freedom from fear. Everybody should respect each other and nobody should be a second class citizen. Some people want to attack Burmese Muslims with excuses pointing at the troubles in other Muslim countries. That is like comparing apples and oranges. Burmese Muslims are totally different from those of other Muslim countries except that they believe in the same religion. Burmese Muslims, however, grow up with different cultures, interactions, influences and social environments.

    I am concerned that many Burmese Buddhists are behaving themselves more like those in troubled countries – looting, burning, destroying, killing, etc. Even though many didn’t participate in the violent attacks, they encourage rioters or at the minimum condone them. If they haven’t thought of anything, I would like to point out a few consequences that can follow the events created by zealously “religious” troublemakers.

    1. More or less the violence from other failed states would come to haunt Burma in which bombs can explode one after another ruining the peaceful life which the populace now enjoy. The tremendous insecurity will depress people and make them regret crack opening Pandora’s Box. Rich western nations have to spend billions for their security apparatus to investigate terrorist threats and protect own citizens. Burma can’t afford much.

    2. All these disturbances reach a point so uncontrollable that it invites the army to stage a coup abolishing a little freedom everybody starts to enjoy now.

    A couple of years ago when I visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I went to a Burmese restaurant. A young man next to our table said to his friends with a sigh that only old people, disabled and children were left in his village while others went to work in foreign countries, mostly Muslim states in the Middle East. Being people with little education and training, they become laborers in oil rich countries. The dependents who live with the support by those youngsters are now becoming increasingly hatemongers of Burma.

    Our fledgling democracy is in jeopardy and our national economy is now being endangered by small groups of pitbulls. Many foreign investors will become hesitant because of rising violence and security risks. Burmese will be shunned all over the world as aggressors. If some people could still remember, Burmese people not long ago have been treated as vagabonds or inferiors in many countries, including Burma’s neighbors, because of the brutal military regime. We shouldn’t go back to this path again.

    Together with Mr. Norman Hla, I would like to greatly appreciate to Sayadaw Shwe Nya War and other Buddhist abbots for trying to stop rioters. We desperately need revered monks to educate and straighten out the derailed minority to get back on the right track and to avoid from doing injustices.

    Before we could achieve the normal and justifiable circumstances with the help of Sayadaws and intelligent elders, we must deal drastically with the lawless elements. I would like to request the President and Members of Parliament, not only to utter “the rule of law”, but make hate crime laws and severely punish those who commit violent crimes due to the hatred of race, religion and other reasons.

    • Metta,
      You preached really well. I might be converted into Buddhism and make you my monk.

    • I will not be surprised if “Jihad” was to be declared on Burma. In fact, I’m hoping it would. Fight fire with fire is the only way to go for this corrupted country. Burma had changed its name to Myanmar but the low-life standards of Bamah majority remain the same.The country will never become democratic. Burmese muslims are far more industrious and wealthy than that of peasant Bamah population. Burmese muslims actually contribute to the country’s economy and society with various businesses. In the eye of the world, Burma is lowest of the low. Wirathu claimed himself to be “Burmese Bin Laden”??? Please! That is very comical and shows the “pea-brained” intelligence of Burmese religious and “political” figures. All my thoughts and prayers go out to every Burmese Muslims.

      My advice: stick together, form a militia and defeat every Bamah that comes as a threat. You’re physically bigger and stronger, your intelligence is higher and you have an ability to be dominant force within the general population (just think of every Bamah laborer you have dominated). Always keep that in mind. Always keep in mind that Burma is YOUR country.

  8. When Shwe Nya War sayadaw answered question from BBC Burmese, he strongly believed that government involvement was imminent in this recent religious violence in Burma. If his view is true, Burmese government is running dirty political campaign for 2015 election. In the long run, this evil tactic will fail to achieve its goal. Because majority people will neither vote for the dirty candidates nor the dirty parties. We just want clean and sincere representatives and parties to serve our country and citizens for our brighter future. We must not allow them to fool us. The current regime might try to hold on to power with any mean. But we own our votes and cast our votes for the candidates and parties we like. Dirty politics may never get my vote.

  9. My only question to our Buddhist people, do we follow 5 principles of Buddhist ethical practice:

    1….harming living beings.
    2….taking things not freely given.
    3….sexual misconduct.
    4….false speech.
    5….intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness

    Before put your hand in any thing, filter with this precepts, please.

  10. It is clear, Buddhists and Muslims (and Christians) are the same. Look at this buddhist monk Wirathu…he is calling himself the Buddhist Bin Laden! Anyone who has travelled to Burma can see this is a total Buddhist state with temples every
    mile with only very few small minority religions. Actually this violence is not about religion, it is about Bhama control and there will no doubt be new targets beyond muslim..maybe shan or kachin etc. Look at the flag…one star, one race, one language, one religion!

  11. advocate shaikh niazul razy

    please stop genocide. there are many buddist lives in bangladesh.

    • Yes, you’re right many descendents of Burmese ethnics’ Buddhists are living in Sittagong Hill Tracts and they are native peoples of Sittagong Hill Tracts. Sittagong Hill Tracts was historically belonging to Rakhine, Burma. British Colony Government gave it to East Pakistan without consent of native Jumma peoples and Burmese peoples.
      We must ask Bangladeshi Government to give Sittagong Hill Tracts back to Rakhine.
      Bristish Colony Government had left mess in region. Rakhine peoples have lost part of their sovereign land to Bangladesh and now Bengalis from Bangladesh have invading to Rakhine state.
      Now some of Buddhist Rakhine families from Sittagong Hill Tracts are fleeing to Burma.
      Thank you very much to idiot British Colony Government for leaving very good neighbor Bangladesh and leaving mess in region.

  12. Ohn, if our government have perpetrated, why did the bengalis came out of their friday prayers to kill, burn and destroy Maungdaw town and its outskirts that day? Is burmese government with them?

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