CSOs Call For Investigation of Attacks on Muslim Places of Worship

By The Irrawaddy 5 July 2016

RANGOON — Civil society organizations (CSOs) urged the government to investigate recent attacks on Muslim places of worship in Pegu Division and Kachin State, calling to protect the rights of religious minorities, according to a joint statement on Tuesday.

Almost 20 CSOs and non-governmental organizations including the Center for Youth and Social Harmony, Kachin Women’s Association, Myanmar Muslim Youth and Students, Burma Partnership, Equality Myanmar and Fortify Rights signed a statement that said authorities should conduct an investigation and hold perpetrators legally accountable for the two most recent violent incidents.

Less than 10 days after the case in Pegu Division’s Thuye Thamain village in Waw Township on June 23—which resulted in the destruction of a mosque, a Muslim cemetery and a Muslim family’s house and warehouse—a Muslim prayer hall in Kachin State’s Lone Khin village in Hpakant Township was also destroyed by a mob. Nearly 30 Muslim families in Lone Khin village have fled since the riot began.

Apart from heightening security in the areas, the authorities have not conducted any further investigation.

“We call on the government to immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the destruction of the Muslim places of worship in Lone Khin and Thuye Thamain villages and to ensure legal accountability for perpetrators,” the statement read.

“By failing to properly investigate or prosecute perpetrators of these crimes, authorities in [Burma] are fostering a culture of impunity that is inconsistent with [Burma’s] human rights obligations.”

The statement also said that it was time for the current National League for Democracy (NLD) government to deliver on its electoral campaign promise of upholding rule of law and human rights for all.

“The government needs to roll out a concerted effort to protect religious freedom and prevent future outbreaks of violence,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of human rights advocacy group Fortify Rights. “It’s the duty of everyone in [Burma] to ensure that communities of all faiths can practice their religion with freedom from fear.”