RANGOON — Police fired two warning shots to break up a confrontation between Buddhist nationalists and Muslims in Rangoon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township that reportedly left one person injured in the early hours of Wednesday.
Buddhist monks led nationalists into the Muslim neighborhood before midnight, claiming ethnic Muslim Rohingya were there “illegally,” according to police and residents.
There are an estimated 1 million Muslims in Arakan State who self-identify as Rohingya and who are today largely stateless. They are banned from traveling outside the region without special permission.
The nationalists, and many in Burma’s government, describe the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying that they are migrants from Bangladesh.
According to witnesses, the nationalists turned hostile toward the Muslim residents at about midnight when police found no Rohingya “illegally” present in the area, as the nationalists had claimed.
Police then fired the warning shots to disperse the crowd. It was the latest instance of rising tension between Buddhist nationalists and Muslims in the former capital after nationalists shut down two Islamic schools in Thaketa Township last week.