In Lashio, Displaced Families Return Home

By Nan Thiri Lwin 4 June 2013

LASHIO, Shan State — Nearly 1,400 people who were displaced in anti-Muslim riots in the east Burma town of Lashio have returned to their homes, local authorities say.

The displaced people from more than 270 families left their temporary shelter at a local monastery and football field on Monday, although a couple households were temporarily stalled.

“Two families haven’t been able to go home yet,” said an official at the Shan State Information Department. “The first family’s house was burned down [in the rioting], so they don’t have anywhere to go. The second family’s home was damaged and is now being repaired.”

The two families have been moved temporarily to a Chinese-Muslim school in Lashio’s Quarter Seven.

Markets and public schools also reopened, about one week after religious rioting broke out and destroyed a mosque, an Islamic boarding school and other buildings in the Shan State town.

Lashio’s Central Market, which has been closed since last Wednesday, reopened on Monday morning and was as crowded as ever, the Shan State official told The Irrawaddy.

Although the situation was stabilizing, a nighttime curfew remained in place between 8 pm and 4 am, while local authorities continued to urge calm.

Security is being provided for local Muslims by the military, police, township militia and local town leaders.

“All relevant [town] quarter leaders and sub-leaders have been assigned to keep an eye on the neighborhood, checking whether there are strangers in their areas or unusual activities,” an official from Lashio Township’s administrative office told The Irrawaddy.

As the curfew remains in effect, trucks transporting goods between Mandalay and the east Burma town of Muse have been stopped at toll gates for brief periods but are released at every hour to maintain a normal flow of goods.

The violence in Lashio began last Tuesday after a Muslim fuel vendor allegedly poured gasoline on a Buddhist woman and set her alight, with mobs forming to take revenge after the attack. Rioting continued the next day, with casualties confirmed by Wednesday evening.

The unrest caused damages worth 68 million kyats (US$72,000) and 44 suspects have been detained for their alleged roles in the riots, the Shan State Information Department said.