Burma

10 Sentenced in Thandwe for Deadly Religious Riots

By Nobel Zaw 19 December 2014

RANGOON — Ten Muslims were sentenced on Wednesday for their role in deadly inter-communal riots in Thandwe, Arakan State, late last year, according to their lawyer.

Defense lawyer Thein Nyunt told The Irrawaddy that three of those convicted were sentenced to life in prison, which typically carries 20 years in jail before eligibility for parole.

The three sentenced to life were found guilty of murder under Article 302 of Burma’s Penal Code. They were also charged under Article 326, causing hurt by means of an instrument or weapon which could cause death, which holds a maximum sentence of 10 years.

In this case, the 10 year sentence was added to their life sentences, meaning they will serve at least 30 years in jail.

Six others were convicted under Article 326, all of them sentenced to seven years in jail.

One woman was sentenced to one year in prison under Article 201 for causing evidence to disappear or providing false information about an offense.

At least seven people died and more than 100 homes were burned to the ground when violence broke out between Buddhist communities and three Kaman villages over five days beginning in late September 2013. The Kaman are a Muslim minority that mostly live in Arakan State.

More than 60 people were charged for their involvement, at least 23 of them were Muslim. The various charges included murder, injury by weapon, arson, obstruction of official duty, incitement and abetting crime.

This week’s ruling brings the total number of reported convictions related to the incident up to 20. All ten of those convicted on Wednesday were Muslim, their lawyer said.

Thandwe is known mostly as a transit hub for tourists visiting the secluded and idyllic Ngapali beach. Since mid-2012, however, Arakan State has been host to several bouts of rioting between ethnic Arakanese Buddhists and minority Muslims.

While stateless Rohingya Muslims in northern Burma were the most affected, other legally recognized Muslim minorities, such as Kaman, have also been the targets of violence. Anti-Muslim violence since the initial outbreak has left about 140,000 people displaced and hundreds dead nationwide.

When violence shook Thandwe on Sept. 29, 2013, three contiguous Muslim villages were affected leaving five Muslims and two Buddhists dead, more than 100 homes destroyed and about 500 Kaman villagers displaced. A 94-year-old Kaman woman was among those murdered.

Eight Muslims and six Buddhists still await trial for arson related to the Thandwe riots. In total, four people have been sentenced to life for the deaths.

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