Fresh violence hits Myanmar

Fresh violence hits Myanmar

Fresh violence hits Myanmar

Girl from Pauktaw township sits in her family’s shelter at a Rohingya internally displaced person (IDP) camp outside of Sittwe. Fresh violence was sparked by a quarrel between a Buddhist and a Muslim. State authorities said the situation was under control. REUTERS photo

Myanmar’s government called for calm yesterday after Buddhist mobs burned down a Muslim orphanage, a mosque and shops during a new eruption of religious violence in the east of the country.

State-run television said a mosque, a Muslim religious school and a number of shops were gutted by fires started by Buddhists in Lashio, a city in Shan State about 190 kilometers south of Muse on the border with China.

The situation was “under control” after an overnight curfew was imposed in Lashio, according to police, which said the unrest was triggered by an attack on a local Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.
The unrest was sparked on May 28 by a quarrel between the two, named by state media as Aye Aye Win, 24, a Buddhist woman who sold petrol, and Ne Win, a Muslim man aged 48.

‘Control yourselves’

MRTV television said Ne Win poured petrol over Aye Aye Win and set her on fire, adding that the woman was now in hospital. Ne Win was arrested over the incident, after which dozens of Buddhist monks gathered in front of a police station in Lashio, demanding that he be turned over, the state media said.

When the police refused, the crowd went on a rampage, attacking Myoma Mosque near Lashio market, residents said. The authorities moved quickly to restore order late on May 28 by banning unlawful assembly under a state of emergency.

There were no other reports of injuries in the violence, the latest in a series of outbreaks of unrest that pose a major challenge to the country’s reformist government following the end of decades of military rule.

A presidential spokesman appealed for an end to the latest violence, saying it had “no place in the democratic society we are trying to establish.”

“I would like to ask everyone to control [themselves] so this does not happen again in Lashio or other regions,” Ye Htut said in a message posted on his official Facebook page.

In March, at least 44 people, most of them Muslims, died in the central city of Meikhtila after a rampage by Buddhist mobs incensed by the killing of a monk by Muslims, shortly after a violent row between a Buddhist couple and Muslim shop owners.

The most serious violence between Myanmar’s majority Buddhists and Muslims, who make up about 5 percent of the population, took place in Rakhine State in the west in June and October last year.

Buddhists fought Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar and seen by many in the country as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Authorities in Rakhine also recently introduced a two-child limit for Muslim families.

Local officials said the new measure will be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim populations in the state. The townships, Buthidaung and Maundaw, are about 95 percent Muslim.