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BMA Press Release on Latest Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma

By Burmese Muslim Association  •  August 26, 2013

President U Thein Sein promised on his recent visit to the UK and France that there would be no tolerance for religious extremism and sectarian violence in Burma. Unfortunately, a number of serious incidents have taken place in recent days which raise questions about the government’s ability to prevent and take action against sectarian violence.

On 24th August 2013, a rumour was spread that a Buddhist woman was raped by the three Muslim men from Htan Kone village, Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Division. The village is located at 15 miles Northern Shwebo Township.

Mobs gathered near the police station in the evening and were joined by people from nearby villages. The group then started to attack Muslims.

46 Muslims houses, 12 shops and one rice mill were torched and destroyed.  The security forces were reported to have stood by and watched when the mobs were targeting the Muslims properties. Instead of protecting Muslims properties and arresting the attackers, the security forces requested the mob to stop the attack on Muslims.

The Burmese Muslim Association (BMA) has documented the movements of the 969 Buddhist extremist group in Shwebo Township since May 2013. Members of 969 have been distributing anti-Muslims leaflets and CDs for many months but the authorities never took any action against them.

In Meikhtilar, some Muslims who were targeted, lost properties and lost love ones as a result of the brutal violence in March 2013 were sentenced 14 years jail while members of the Buddhist mob that committed mass murder and arson attacks on Muslims were sentenced only 2 years jail.

On 19th August, when UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar Mr. Thomas Ojea Quintana visited Meikhtilar was met by an angry mob. Mr. Quintana’s experience with the mob clearly indicates the existing potential threat for the Muslims. The failure of the security forces to protect him clearly indicated the serious weakness of the state of the rule of law in Burma.

On 9th August a Muslim man was beaten by Buddhist monks from the Thayattaw Monastery in Pha’an city, Karen state. On 20th August, a Muslim man and a teenage boy were beaten by a monk from similar monastery. On 23rd August, three Muslim men were beaten by the monks from the same monastery. BMA has recorded many similar kinds of incidents in Karen state.

In Arakan, Rakhine Buddhists have been campaigned around 26th August to commemorate 52 years of the declaration of Buddhism as the only State religion in Burma. Rakhine Buddhists in Arakan state plan to celebrate the anniversary in Thantwe city. In the meantime, we have documented that some Rakhine extremists are organising people to attack Muslims in Thantwe where majority Kaman peoples and Rohingyas are living. Ethnic Kamans are recognized as an ethnic minority of Burma.

Buddhist extremist in Thantwe have ordered all Buddhists to put 969 logos on their doors. We have confirmed that 5 truckloads of Rakhine extremists from across the Arakan arrived Thantwe on 23rd August. Since then, Muslims in the city are in a state of panic. Muslims in Thantwe received information that Buddhist extremists are planning to attack them on 26th August.

Instigators of hate-speech and hate-acts such as U Wirathu continue to spread hatred against Muslims. This indicates that U Thein Sein government does not intend to address the root cause, or at least is so far ineffective at doing so. The riots have been taking place in different places every time. The consequences of not stopping these hate-crimes are very serious and could lead to further mass killings and even popular genocide campaigns.

We, the Burmese Muslim Association urge the international community to put pressure on Burmese government to protect minorities in Burma from any massacre. Burmese government should protect its citizens equally, and also guarantee protection and security for those whose right to citizenship is contested, such as the stateless Rohingya. The rule of law should be same for everyone residing in Burma. All the displaced persons should be allowed to return to their former places without any restriction. All the religious premises should rebuilt and repair at similar places. All perpetrators of violence should be brought to justice without bias.

On the eve of Burma’s assumption of the ASEAN chair, the government must demonstrate its commitment to protecting peace and security for it citizens and for the entire region.

Media Contact:

Kyaw Win +44-740-345-2378(UK) kyawwin78@gmail.com;
Ms. Yasmin +1 408 250 6227(USA) yasnohana@sbcglobal.net;
Kyaw Swa +44 782 842 6801(UK) kyawzwa@b-m-a.org;
Ms. Molly +1 416 516 7383 (Canada) law4women@gmail.com;

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