PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — Some 30 people attacked Muslim houses with stones in Irrawaddy Region’s Lemyethna Township on Tuesday following an interfaith elopement.
A Buddhist woman ran away with a Muslim man on Feb. 11 in Eai Thabyu village. Her parents had demanded an official proposal from his Muslim parents for their marriage and a wedding reception according to village customs, but the Muslim parents did not show up even one month after the elopement, and angry locals attacked their home, said U Khin Zaw, administrator of the Eai Thabyu village tract.
“The attack happened around 9:45 p.m. and ended around 10 p.m. A crowd of approximately 30 people threw stones at four Muslim houses, including the homes of friends of the Muslim man,” U Khin Zaw told The Irrawaddy.
“Three houses were damaged and a car windshield was broken. But no one was injured,” he added.
According to the Eai Thabyu police station, the kiosk of U Tu Tu Maung’s home; the kiosk, a cupboard and a fridge in U Bo Bo’s home; and U Kyaw Min Han’s car windshield were damaged in the attack.
“As soon as we heard about the attack, we went to the scene with riot gear. The attackers had left by the time we arrived. We saw the stones that they threw and took them as evidence in line with police procedure. We provided security for the whole night for fear that more attacks would happen,” police officer Zaw Tun of Eai Thabyu police station told The Irrawaddy.
The interfaith couple was hiding during the attack, but afterwards, the Buddhist wife wrote on her Facebook page that she had run away with her husband of her own volition.
Myanmar Muslim Media, an online media site operated by Muslims, reported that police officer Zaw Tun and administrator U Khin Zaw urged the attacked Muslim families not to open a case. Police officer Zaw Tun denied that accusation.
“Both the township administrator and chief of the township police force told them (Muslim families) that they could file complaints with the police station if they wanted to. But they didn’t. It is not that we didn’t open the case, but they didn’t file a complaint,” said police officer Zaw Tun.
The Lemyethna Township police force provided security in the village on Wednesday evening.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.