Mosques, Homes Destroyed in Latest Burma Violence
Sectarian violence spread further into the heartland of Burma on Tuesday, with officials reporting at least two mosques and dozens of homes destroyed in riots.
Police and witnesses say there were no casualties reported in the overnight violence in two communities in the Pegu region north of Rangoon.
The violence has been spreading southward from the central town of Meikhtila, where clashes erupted last week, prompting a state of emergency.
The unrest has not yet reached Rangoon, Burma's largest city. But tensions are high and many shops are being told to close early because of rumors of clashes.State media Tuesday said the death toll from the Meikhtila violence reached 40, after eight more bodies were found during cleanup of the riot-hit town.
The Dark Side of Burmese Freedom
Buddhist monks and politicians have used an unshackled media to stoke anti-Muslim violence.
Just two years into Burma's reform program, the country's transition to democracy is threatened from an unexpected direction. An unshackled media and new freedoms of speech and movement have contributed to religious tensions between Buddhists and Muslims exploding into violence.
Most Burma watchers hoped last year's outbreak of violence aimed at the Rohingya was an isolated case, but the phenomenon is spreading. On March 20, anti-Muslim rioting swept the town of Meikhtila in central Burma, far from the Rohingya communities of Rakhine state in the west. Mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes were torched, scores injured and entire neighborhoods left in ruins. Government media say 32 have been killed.Burmese authorities declared a state of emergency on March 22, sending in the military to restore order. A tense calm hangs over the city and soldiers have begun delivering some food to 6,000 Muslims who fled to hurriedly established makeshift camps. But in recent days, anti-Muslim mobs have attacked several more towns in central Burma, wrecking mosques and burning houses, including in a village near the capital of Naypyidaw.
U.S. Warns on Myanmar Travel as Deaths Rise
By SHIBANI MAHTANI
The U.S. Embassy has warned against travel to parts of Myanmar after clashes between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims that authorities said killed at least 40 people last week in the central town of Meikhtila.
The markets appeared peaceful Tuesday but have been on edge. "Yesterday we heard rumors of fights happening somewhere, so we closed our shops at about 2:30 p.m.," said Ma Ohnmar, a Muslim women who sells clothing and accessories at one of the market areas. "But today most of the shops are open, including mine."
Myanmar attacks staged with ‘brutal efficiency’: U.N. envoy
Muslim homes have been targeted with “brutal efficiency” in deadly new unrest in Myanmar, a UN envoy who has just been to the troubled country said Tuesday.
Envoy Vijay Nambiar said that “incendiary propaganda” had been used to stir unrest between Buddhist and Muslim communities which has erupted again in recent days.
Nambiar has just been on a visit to Myanmar during which he met President Thein Sein and was taken to Meiktila where mosques were burned and charred bodies left in the streets in violence that started March 20.“It seemed to have been done, in a sense, in almost a kind of brutal efficiency,” Nambiar told reporters at UN headquarters from Thailand.
Jonathan Manthorpe: Burma’s religious violence threatens democratic transition
Rioting close to centres of power could be pretext for military to seize power
At least 32 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in five days of communal riots in the central Burmese town of Meikhtila. More than 10 mosques, Muslims’ homes and Islamic schools were destroyed and thousands of people, both Buddhist and Muslim, have fled the town.There is a dispute about how the violence started. What seems certain is that it started in a gold shop run by a Muslim.
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