The Irrawaddy

Ma Ba Tha Not Involved in Meiktila Assault: Police

YANGON — Police have denied reports members of ultranationalist Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha attacked a Muslim resident in Mandalay’s Meiktila Township on Monday.

Meiktila Township police station confirmed a Muslim resident living at a house between Pyi Thar Yar No. 2 and No. 3 streets was attacked by five unidentified men on Monday night but rejected media reports that members of the Association for Protection of Race and Religion—also known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ba Tha—were involved in the assault.

“As it only happened last night [Monday night], there are five unknown attackers according to our initial investigation,” a police officer of Meiktila Township told The Irrawaddy.

“We’re investigating who did it. Only one man was attacked, and it was not done by Ma Ba Tha members or monks as was reported online. They have nothing to do with it.”

Meiktila Township No. 3 Police Station opened an assault case, police said.

Bhaddanta Sami, chairman of Meiktila Township chapter of the Ma Ba Tha, denied Ma Ba Tha’s involvement in attack.

On Tuesday morning, the Facebook page of Myanmar Muslim Media reported a group of people led by hardcore Ma Ba Tha member Maung Win broke into a house belonging to followers of Islam at midnight on Monday, and attacked them with knives. The report was shared widely online.

 

Muslim resident Ko Hla Aung, also known as Muhammad Ali, was injured in the face and head, and is receiving treatment at Meiktila Township Hospital for minor injuries, according to police.

Media reported Ma Ba Tha members attacked Ko Hla Aung because he bought a plot of land from a Buddhist local and accommodated Muslim followers there. However, police did not confirm this.

Relations between Buddhist and Muslim residents of Meiktila Township remain tense after violence broke out in 2013.