Govt Thanks Mandalay Resident for ‘Effective Cooperation’ in Ending Unrest

By The Irrawaddy 7 July 2014

RANGOON — After four days of unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay came to an end this weekend, Burma’s President Office released a ‘thank-you’ letter to the city for the “effective cooperation of its residents” during efforts to end the violence, which left two people dead.

The announcement, made both in Burmese and English, was shared by the
President Office Director Zaw Htay on his Facebook page, where he uses the name Hmuu Zaw.

Titled “Appreciated to Responsible Citizens in Mandalay City,” the statement hailed the collaboration of Mandalay residents, civil society organizations, media and religious leaders to “overcome the most difficult situation.”

“Religious and civil society leaders together with responsible youth
who managed to defend and protect the people of different faiths from
unnecessary misunderstanding also deserve our deep appreciation,” said the statement, which could not be found on the President Office’s official website.

“We have to recognize and appreciate those dutiful persons behind the scene… who informed and cooperated with the police about the activities of miscreants,” it said, adding that these people’s collective efforts to work with the government had prevented further escalation of violence.

A government statement released Sunday said 16 people had been arrested in relation to the violence, which saw mobs of hundreds of armed and angry Buddhist young men swarm through the streets, only to be turned back at the edge of the city’s Muslim areas by a heavy police deployment.

Inter-communal violence first broke out on Tuesday night after allegations circulated on Facebook that a Muslim tea shop owner had raped a Buddhist maid. Rising tensions spilled over into violence and Muslim and Buddhist clashed, leaving a 36-year-old Buddhist man and a 50-year-old Muslim man dead. Fourteen people were injured.

On Thursday, Mandalay authorities imposed a 9 pm to 5 am
curfew in the city and one outlying township, and a heavy police deployment secured the city. On Friday, unrest continued to simmer, but on Saturday the situation had calmed down.

Local residents have questioned the authorities’ handling of the situation, however, saying that police forced been slow to react to the unrest.