Waiting for Solace

Meikhtila refugees queue to get dinner. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / The Irrawaddy)

MEIKHTILA — Two weeks after a wave of anti-Muslim violence engulfed Meikhtila, Mandalay Division—leaving at least 40 dead and 61 injured—more than 12,000 mostly Muslim residents of the city shelter in camps for the displaced. Most of the camps are improvised in schools under the control of the Burmese government. In recent days, journalists have been barred from entering the camps. According to a local National League for Democracy politician, aid organizations have been forced to leave deliveries at the camp gates.

But despite the restricted access to Burmese government-run camps, The Irrawaddy managed to visit an unofficial camp about 20 km from Meikhtila. The camp, which The Irrawaddy gained access to, is run by a businessman from a city near Meikhtila, who requested anonymity. About 3,400 displaced Muslims are crowded into this camp, which costs about US $30,000 per day to run. The camp is functioning without major problems, but without external aid in the near future, the situation could degenerate. Residents at the camp also fear further attacks like the ones that erupted in March.

One side effect of the violence has been a leveling of social differences between Muslims in the camp. Previous social and economic circumstances are irrelevant in a place where people from all economic classes share the same fate. A travel agent shares the same space as a rickshaw driver. Most are uncertain about the future, and fear their situation could become permanent, as has happened to the Rohingya and other Muslims in Arakan State. The Burmese government has said it will rebuild all of the houses in Meikhtila within two months, but few put any trust in this pledge. In the meantime, there is little for the Muslims in this camp to do except wait for the future with apprehension.


13 Responses to Waiting for Solace

  1. So many Muslim community killed by Government back organization.their home and property destroyed,people burnt alive,wild monks follower of 969 group with support of security force not only threat Muslim life also 21 century civilization.even house is rebuild for Muslim victim,government no need to use all of loot,confiscation they obtain from Muslim.why government ban visit from outside to the camp victim,authority don’t want expose truth want to cover up crime committed by government.there is also threat to victim not to tell the truth to journalist, press, media and NGO.our MAFIA lead Government is like gangsters it challenging modern civility with cruel,evil mind set.

  2. I still remember in the1988 when U NAY WIN step down with tear and said ” I taken all property from INDIAN and CHINESE ,given to all of you but you all can’t improve yourself .”In 1962, U NAY WIN control and then he taken all property from INDIAN and CHINESE .Aafter 26 yrs later, under his controlling times , the country go down into the poorest country in the world. Since 2012 to until today destroying the life and property of Muslims ,so worried for the future condition of Myanmar .

  3. Why you so hate Muslims ? Muslim is not taliban nor alkida .Muslim is Islam. Islam,who believe Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah .Ifind that you have good knowledge of English ,so that please visit Islamic web site and see what Islam teching , if you can manage to send all Burma Muslims to any Islamic country ,please send us there as soon as possible we all Burma Muslims ready to go because we all very very frightening in here.

    • Hindus in Pakistan,Coptic Christians in Egypt other minority religious people in most muslim countries are persecuted day and night and are forced to convert, nobody speaks for them,,but when a mosquito bytes a muslim …USA steps in ,OIC condemns the act… Muslims cry islam is a religion of peace…The world has never seen such bigotry……….Praying 20 times a day will not make any difference….be humans first. Burmese must Boycott american products like coca cola and pepsi United states see Myanmar as a new market thats why they are cozying up ,beware of them they are jackals in sheep’s cloth.

  4. Mg Myo chit thu, and also remember this, By birth right, all those muslim born in this country, their future is in Burma. They are every inch part of our society . They will contribute the development of our country the same as you can contribute the development of our country. Diversity is an assets not liability.

  5. I found some commentators selecting very beautiful names, like guarding the country only by them. Religions is belief. People are free to choose whatever they want to believe. Now discriminating based on one religion is totally unacceptable. In some countries you will not find religion, mention on ID cards. Originally Burmese people are very kind hearted and never hate others. Only mixed community like Indian mixed or Chinese mixed people put poison in simple Burmese people’s minds

  6. I’m really sad and sympathy for those innocent peoples who are suffering and lost. Some of them have lost their love one. Those Muslims are Burmese-Muslim and they belong to Burma. They are citizen of Burma and they have equal right like other Burmese citizen. They are not illegal Bengali migrants so called Rohingya Bengali from Rakhine state.
    Burma is secular state and everyone can practice freely what they believe in.
    However, Muslim peoples must respect other religions. If you look at most of communal riots were started by insulting to Buddhist monk by young Muslim. Taung Gyi Buddhist vs. Muslim communal riot started by Muslim youths who insulted Buddhist monk.
    Meikhtila communal riot started after Muslim youth killed Buddhist monk. Some trouble makers in Muslim community are endangering innocent lives from both communities.
    What they expect the result from provocation in Buddhist majority country?
    Those trouble makers must know risk of their Muslim peoples’ lives and property. I do not think any Buddhists or Christians or Muslims will tolerate religion insulting in any country.
    Look at those victims, they do not deserve to be suffered, lost of hope, lost of their love one and belonging. We have to learn from this tragedy and avoid future incident like this one.
    I have very careful about not to make any mistake and pay respect to their culture and Muslim religion whenever I visit to Muslim country.
    Burmese-Muslim community need integrate into Burmese culture and respect Buddhism. I’m not calling for Burmese-Muslim to follow Buddhism. They need respect other peoples’ religion. Buddhism does not urge someone to become Buddhist. It’s up to the person.
    I saw some Muslims converted to Buddhism and even some becoming Buddhist monk. They were converted to Buddhism at their will. In Mergui, one Muslim man he converted to Buddhism and ordained as Buddhist monk and living as Buddhist monk until he dead after came back from pilgrimage to Mecca. No one has force him to convert Buddhism.
    Also I saw Buddhist converted to Muslim but most of them were converted to Muslim against their will after married. That is one of the reasons for some peoples dislike Muslim in Burma.
    Also overseas Muslim organization should stay away from Burmese domestic problem. If they want to help their Muslim brothers and sisters and then they should give donation via NGO or Red Cross. Overseas Muslim organization involvement can be more complicated in this matter. Some Buddhist Burmese think OIC and other Muslim organizations are assisting Muslims to expanse Islam religion in Burma since Rakhine communal riot. Please let the time to heal the wound between two communities by themselves.

    • Mr. Kan,

      You wrote, “Meikhtila communal riot started after Muslim youth killed Buddhist monk”. Where did you get this information? The problem started at the gold shop owned by a Muslim family. The Buddhists said the Burmese couple(customers) were attacked. The Muslims did not get a chance to tell their side of story. Now, you bring up different story. When Warithu’s people marched toward the Muslim area and destroyed and torched their houses, the monk may get killed. If it happened, it is considered self-defense. Why are you trying to make yourself disciple of Osama Bin Laden Warithu? There are many extremists among billion of Muslims in the world, Meikhtila riot has nothing to do with Islamic extremists. For the incident at one gold shop, all Muslims do not deserve this cruel punishment. I am not a Muslim but I have sympathy for the innocent victims in the hands of Warithu and his followers. No matter what happen in Muslim countries, we must treat other people as fellow human beings. “Tit for tat” is for nonreligious people. At the same time, if the shop owner(s) physically assaulted the customers, then go to Police Station and take legal action according to the law. Why burning houses and killing Muslims who had nothing to do with the gold shop incident.

  7. George Than Setkyar Heine

    “Most of the camps are improvised in schools under the control of the Burmese government. In recent days, journalists have been barred from entering the camps. According to a local National League for Democracy politician, aid organizations have been forced to leave deliveries at the camp gates”.
    Why didn’t they allow the journalists to enter the camps?
    And why wouldn’t they allow the delivery of relief items as well?
    The former is simply a case of TRAVESTY of DEMOCRACY and the latter is OUTRIGHT CASE of INHUMANITY no doubt.
    The Burmese Muslims are VICTIMS of a SINISTER CAMPAIGN no less as well.
    Of course the Muslim husband, wife and their cohorts are RESPONSIBLE for the ASSAULT on the villagers who came to SELL their GOLD at the shop.
    However, KILLING a BUDDHIST MONK should be INVESTIGATED in DEPTH and LENGTH to GET the STORY RIGHT as well.
    The DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE of course.
    QUARANTINING the Burmese Muslims like today is WARRANTED as well for their SAFETY and SECURITY given the PREVAILING SITUATION no doubt.
    However, the Burmese Muslims should be TREATED AT BEST as THEY ARE the CITIZENRY of BURMA born and bred in the same country WHERE WE WERE BORN and RAISED as well.
    BLESSED BE the BUSINESSMAN taking CARE of the DISPLACED PEOPLE at the moment of course.
    The Burmese people in GENERAL and PARTICULAR and of course by DISCIPLINE, NATURE, TEACHING and INBORN as well are GOOD at HEART, KIND and LOVING as well not to mention EMPATHETIC and SYMPATHETIC to FELLOW BEINGS including the ANIMALS I know.
    And BUDDHA’S PREACHINGS/TEACHINGS are MOST BASIC and INSTRUMENTAL for that matter as well trust me.
    However, when a MONK MURDERER HOLDS the REINS of the COUNTRY ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE of course like today.
    This is a FACT in EVIDENCE today in Burma lest ALL PEOPLE specifically ALLAH WORSHIPING MUSLIMS born and bred in Burma forget I say.
    Most importantly I URGE ALL PEOPLE BORN and BRED in BURMA REGARDLESS of WHAT DEITY/GOD THEY BELIEVE IN or WORSHIP to UNITE and STRIVE for their BASIC RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM, JUSTICE etc, VIA TOPPLING the PRESENT PSEUDO-CIVILIAN RULING BODY at Naypyidaw FOR THAT MATTER as IT IS SERVING to COVER the ASSES of Than Shwe, his family and CRONIES’ while SELLING the COUNTRY to the CHINESE COMMUNISTS next door as well as evidenced today.

  8. Why trying to fool people. If one can write beautiful English, it is not mean to fool innocent people. Why should we write bias things. From 1962 onward Muslims become untaouchable. Buddhist become super community. No Buddhist will like to convert to Muslim as there is no incentive, no power and could not preach other. Same thing to Christian beleiver. They are living as sub- human. Still Muslims can force Buddhist to convert to their religion.No logic and reason. When Muslims convert to Buddhist, then it is his own wish. But when Buddhist convert, then it is by force. Why?
    The topic we are commenting relate to Muslims from Miktilla . But Bengali Kalar ( Rohingya ) are unnecessarily brought here. Why?. Muslims convert Buddhist by force is the word from Wiirathu hate speech! No body will accept the word only few extremists.

  9. Making many lives miserable may not bring nirvana. Where is kindness and care? Buddhists can do more than that. Myanmars can do better than this. By doing evil things, the Myanmars are making themselves evil people in the midst of the world.

  10. This is the MOST OUTRAGEOUS situation which is INTOLERABLE and MUST NOT be accepted in any society. These are totally, totally innocent people treated like dogs. By treating people like dogs, whatever the hell religion one wants to call it, the instigators become DOGS.

    And by sporting this heinous act the whole society becomes weak and corrupt and easy pray for outsiders as they have no principle, or humanity.

    People of Burma think hard, and think again. And remember “pyu thu a thit, khan thu a haung”.

    This is simply inhuman and unacceptable. Stuff the religion. This is nothing to do with any frigging religion. This is mass bullying and total moral degradation.

    LOW, LOW state of humanity, total lack of morality in Burma.

    These people who ever they are MUST be helped to be FREE and live happily. if people in Burma are indeed human. Simply blaming Phargaung Thein Sein alone is not enough.

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