One Arrested as Police Disperse Nationalist Mob in Magwe Division

By Zarni Mann 11 September 2017

MANDALAY – One man was arrested in Magwe Region’s Taungdwingyi after a nationalist mob – some armed with swords – attacked a mosque and property owned by Muslims before being dispersed by riot police with rubber bullets on Sunday evening.

“The situation in Taungdwingyi is now under control and security forces are deployed,” said a statement released by the government’s Information Committee on Sunday, adding that some 21 army and 30 police from Magwe Division base were deployed to maintain order.

Hnin Ko Ko Lin, 30, was arrested for his part in stoning the house of butcher Ko Jinner in Ohn Taw Quarter No. 1 in the town at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the statement said, adding that police were searching for more culprits and that they would be dealt with “according to the law.”

According to locals the nationalist mob was at times 400 strong and some carried swords and bamboo rods.

“The mob start stoning the house of a Muslim man and other shops along the Taungdwingyi-Magwe road while cursing and singing nationalist songs,” a local Muslim resident told The Irrawaddy on the condition of anonymity.

They later began attacking a mosque in Shwe Kyar Inn quarter before being dispersed by police, he said.

“We do not know why the mob gathered like that. My family is hiding somewhere safe, as we are afraid to stay in our home,” he added.

Local police told The Irrawaddy they are still investigating how the mob gathered. According to the Information Committee Hnin Ko Ko Lin said he was acting because of the “disappointing situation in Rakhine State.”

Violence is sweeping Rakhine State after deadly attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 police outposts on Aug. 25.

Subsequent attacks, violence, and government security operations have killed hundreds, displaced thousands of ethnic Arakanese and Hindu according to the government and sent nearly 300,000 self-identifying Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the border to Bangladesh, according to the UN.

ARSA announced a month-long unilateral ceasefire, starting on Sunday, to enable aid groups to help ease the humanitarian crisis gripping Rakhine.

On Saturday, the government also requested the public not send “online and SMS attack warnings,” after rumors spread of further ARSA attacks, and announced that it would take legal action against those instigating public panic.

Sunday’s statement said security forces had been deployed in other cities to maintain order.

On Sunday, opposition party the Union Solidarity and Development Party held a meeting in Yangon titled “Discussion on the Rakhine Issue that is Threatening National Security,”

In Karen State, nationalists led by firebrand Buddhist monk U Wirathu gathered to condemn ARSA’s attacks that they called the “oppression of race and religion.”