882 Homes Torched in Meikhtila, Satellite Images Show

Satellite images arranged by Human Rights Watch show the scale of destruction in one of Meikhtila’s Muslim quarters where 442 homes were torched on March 20-22. To see more images of the damage click on the box below. (Photo: HRW)

RANGOON—Satellite images released by Human Rights Watch on Monday revealed that during the recent unrest between Buddhists and the Muslim minority in Meikhtila town, mobs burned down three neighborhoods covering 60.5 acres and containing at least 828 homes.

The New York-based group urged the government to effectively stem the anti-Muslim violence in central Burma and put those responsible for the crimes on trial.

“The government should investigate responsibility for the violence in Meikhtila and the failure of the police to stop wanton killings and the burning of entire neighborhoods,” HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

The high-resolution images were taken a week after riots first erupted in Meikhtila, Mandalay Division, on March 20, and show that three areas were reduced to ashes as a result of arson attacks. Photos of the same area taken on Dec. 13 by comparison, show the neighborhoods intact.

HRW concluded in an imagery analysis that 828 homes were destroyed and 35 buildings severely damaged. “Damages are spatially concentrated within multiple areas of near total destruction measuring approximately 24.5 hectares [60.5 acres] in total area,” the group said, without specifying if the homes were owned by Muslims or Buddhists.

“The destruction appears similar to satellite imagery of towns affected by sectarian violence in Arakan State in 2012, in which arson attacks left large, clearly defined residential areas in ashes,” HRW said, referring to the clashes between Buddhist Arkanese and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, which killed scores of villagers and displaced 125,000 people, mostly Rohingyas.

Burma’s government should have learned the lessons of recent sectarian clashes in Arakan State and moved quickly to bolster the capacity of the police to contain violence and protect lives and property,” said Adams.

The riots in Meikhtila broke out on March 20 and clashes between majority Buddhists and the Muslim minority engulfed the town and 12,846 people fled. A state of emergency was declared on March 22 and the army restored calm.

The unrest subsequently spread to a total of 11 townships in Mandalay and Pegu divisions, where Muslim neighborhoods were ransacked. On March 28, President Thein Sein warned that the government would use force if necessary to quell the unrest. Soon after, the riots stopped.

According to government figures, a total of 43 people were killed and 93 were hospitalized in the riots, most of them in Meikhtila, while 1,227 homes, 77 shops and 37 mosques were destroyed. Police said 68 detainees were being charged for their role in the unrest.

However, the government’s lack of decisive action in protecting minority Muslim communities in recent violence has been heavily criticized, while the violence has also been blamed on those spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The spread of an anti-Islamic sentiment is “a serious challenge to the rights of Muslims in Burma,” HRW said, adding that, “Some well-known members of the Buddhist monkhood, or Sangha, have given sermons and distributed anti-Muslim tracts and directives that call on Buddhist residents to boycott Muslim businesses and shun contact with Muslim communities.”

“The government should also make it clear that it will not tolerate incitement to violence, especially by clergy or others in positions of authority,” the group said.

On Friday, the director of operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs John Ging wrapped up a visit to Burma.

Ging joined the growing number of international aid and rights groups who are warning that the government should improve the conditions in refugee camps of Rohingyas in Arakan State ahead of the nearing rainy season, and allow aid groups access to the sites.

“We must act immediately to prevent a predictable tragedy. Many of the camps where the IDPs are currently located are on low-lying ground which floods every year,” he said.


25 Responses to 882 Homes Torched in Meikhtila, Satellite Images Show

  1. Destroyer, investigator and judge are all from the same group Sir.
    Only UN can solve this problem if they really want to solve.

  2. khin zaw (a) Ginwalla

    Thein Sein is a weak leader. Monks have become so poor that they don’t care about what their religion teaches.. They have now become looters, murderes. The Burmese army have become rapist, in Karen State. Police are involved in corruptions. Foreign investors beware of these situations. This can happen anytime. I think SEA games will be boycotted by Muslim athletics.

  3. Burmese Government flatly rejected about involvement in current killing of Muslims in Myktilla. Whole villages, with more than 800 houses were burnt. No security provided to minority Muslims. Similar burning of Muslim’s houses in Kyawk Pyu. Whole village was burnt. It is good that we can still see the damage from satellite pictures. Otherwise outside world will have no idea how cruelly Burmese thugs burnt Muslims houses in Burma

    • Did you ever heard about Bengali Muslim settlers and Bangladeshi Soldiers killing native Jumma peoples of Chittagong Hill Tracts and burning home and their religious building for their fertile farmland in Chittagong Hill Tracts?
      UN, Human Right Watch and International Journalists are all closed mouth about ethnic cleansing and genocide in Chittagong Hill Tracts. All incidents in Chittagong Hill Tracts have evidences and prove of committing crimes by Bengali Muslim settlers and Bangladeshi soldiers.
      You’re accusing Burmese Government for inciting and involving communal riot and killing Muslim in Meithila.
      Do you have any evidences for you’re accusation? I don’t think so.
      One thing I want to say for you. Please, stop insulting Buddhism and Buddhist Monks in your future comments.
      U Wirathu is not doing Buddhist Monk job and he has no business in social politic.
      The Buddhist Monk must be adhered to Buddha teaching and if he does not teach Buddha’s Dharma and then he should leave Buddhist Monk-hood.
      You can’t say Buddhist Monks becoming looters and murderers.

  4. Friends:

    Since we are now living in the age of information technology, we cannot hide the true story of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing in Burma under the shadow forever, thus meaning the international community will surely know whatever we are doing in the country sooner rather than later. Therefore the state leaders in the country should not try to lie the world but take responsibility to arrest and put on trial those who are held responsible for the violence and killing.

  5. Yet theese same Human rights groups say little when it is the Muslims doing the attacking. Seems they are biased.

    • You are delusional accusing these reputable organizations. What you do not know is that they know exactly what is going on in Burma,i.e who the perpetrators are. You are the one who just woke up from the deep sleep military rule had put you on. The world was not blind and is not blind.

  6. Killers behaving like innocent persons go endlessly in Burma.

  7. Seriously Muslims. Only you are capable of getting Buddhists angry enough to act like Muslims. Guess you shouldn’t have blown up those statues, eh?

    • Dear ollie you should not take a side step from what happens and happening in myanmar..those terrorist monks must be punish for their crime..muslims in myanmar wants a peacefull life but those terrorist monks refuse.

      • If they want peace then they must stop cheating, lying and raping. Keeping being disrespectful to the monks and this violence won’t stop. You are biased against the Buddhists and monks in particular.

    • seriously ollie, are you so obtuse to blame the Muslims in Burma for what Taliban did ignoring that Muslims in Burma have been oppressed 100 times more than the average citizens under the military rule and they only want live like you do to ear a living and feed their families.

  8. monk wiratu&associate should stop lying to Burmese general public by preaching anti Muslim propaganda.in arakan and central Burma massacre,destruction, monks are more responsible than other conflict contributor like RNDP&group,free media like seven eleven,Facebook like information technology.if relevant authority enforce rule of law accordingly like on jealous monks,high profile people like khin Nyunt,lost of innocent Muslim life and property can minimize.my previous experience showed government of Burma have no courage,will to do so.

  9. I do not know one of above writer is referring to my comment. I did not attack Buddhism as I was brought up among Buddhists and all my childhood teachers were Buddhist. I know little bit about Buddha’s teaching. We are writing about Burmese Muslims Villages not Bengali. Why someone bring here Bengali murder case. I think peace loving people will not like tit for tat revenge style comparison.

  10. U Wirathu is a serious mental man and his followers are metal people. They should stay the whole of their lives in mental hospital. They should not mix with normal people. All Muslims and Buddhist should love each other. Worst government, worst monk make the the people unhappy. All we are human. Even our pets like dogs, cats not are not fighting. Killers are worse than animals.

  11. As if a Buddhist never cheats, lies or rapes? Ridiculous reason to justify the violence.

  12. LLB stands for Lawless Burma. As long as lawless thugs are running the country, do not expect rule of law. The victims are victimized twice.

  13. poor nation with groups of murderer monks ! nothing to be proud of this country !

  14. The attack on minority Buddhists, at a wholesale rate, was initiated by the military ruler General Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh, in 1975. His wife, Khaleda zia, and their party is playing a dubious role at attack on monasteries, temples and churches and also hobnobbing with islamic extremist organizations and militant outfits. Zia brought in hundreds of thousands of bengali muslims from the plainland and settled them forcefully on the lands owned by indigenous people, most of whom are Buddhists in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, now divided into Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari districts. The arson with gunpowder on Buddhist temples of Ramu, and many more Hindu temples across the country is proogf that islamist militants are as brute as anytime in the past, and with money from the middle east sources and network across the globe they are now making use of the digital media and orchetrating destruction of anything nonMuslim.. Burma as a secular country never had a problem with race attacks in the past. But with islamization of Bangladesh by its rulers and attacks on Buddhist heritage sites (Ramu), and support of rohingya islamic militancy, Burma, thoudh Buddhist cannot remain silent for eternity. The attacks on Muslims in Burma were not without any reason. In all instances, the Muslims were found to start the problem, while the majority people in Burma paid those islamist acts with kind. If you don’t believe this, please go to rohingya websites, which fuel hatred against the Maghs, as such the maghs will never keep silent. They will pay them back – and that is natural. If the Musllims of burma want to live there, they must know how to keep harmony with all the people of Burma and their beliefs and culture, or else more of this is sure to follow.

  15. How about the radical Islamists killing and destroying the Infidels all over the world?

    This racial conflict should not be equated to ethnic cleansing and Islamic Jihads all over the world the most recent one being at The Boston Marathon.

    • How does what happens elsewhere justifies the killings of Muslims in Burma? Don’t you know that in the end, it is your country, Burma, that will be kept from advancing? Cronies are behind all this, moron.

  16. I am sure. Many Buddhist monks and real followers of Buddha and His teaching are feeling the pain and the heat with the victims of this violence. Many Muslims are not terrorists. At the same time, the action from some Buddhists neither represent the whole Buddhists nor monks. It is just a sad incident to many of us.

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