Mob burns down Mus­lim prayer hall in Hpakant

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

A MOB of about 500 peo­ple burned down a tem­po­rary Mus­lim prayer hall in Kachin State’s Hpakant township on the evening of July 1, po­lice said.

The at­tack in Lone Khin vil­lage was the se­cond in the coun­try in as many weeks. On June 23 a Bud­dhist mob de­stroyed a mosque in Bago Re­gion, with the chief min­is­ter there say­ing he will not take ac­tion against the per­pe­tra­tors.

Kachin State po­lice said the Lone Khin prayer hall was built with­out per­mis­sion. Po­lice Colonel Tun Oo said Bud­dhists burned it down, though a se­cu­rity force pre­vented any fur­ther de­struc­tion.

“We will take stern ac­tion against the peo­ple who were in­volved,” he said. “We have started the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The struc­ture was ini­tially built as a home but was later used for de­vo­tion by lo­cal Mus­lims, state po­lice said, and lo­cal Bud­dhists had com­plained to the township ad­min­is­tra­tion, call­ing for its de­mo­li­tion.

U Laung Khan, chair of the Lone Khin vil­lage Na­tional League for Democ­racy chap­ter, said the township ad­min­is­tra­tion depart­ment urged the vil­lagers to act in ac­cor­dance with the law but some did not lis­ten.

“All Mus­lim peo­ple in the vil­lage have fled to other vil­lages,” he said. “I know that they are afraid of Bud­dhist peo­ple. The Bud­dhist peo­ple shouted ‘Vic­tory! Vic­tory!’ loudly af­ter the fire. Most of them are not Lone Khin vil­lagers. They are mi­grant work­ers who are work­ing with rough stones.”

The Myan­mar Po­lice Force re­leased a state­ment on July 1 say­ing that about 500 Bud­dhists were in­volved in the in­ci­dent. Po­lice will in­ves­ti­gate what in­cited the mob, the state­ment said, but no ar­rests have been made yet.

A Lone Khin res­i­dent who saw the in­ci­dent said lo­cals were not in­volved. They were Ba­mar and Rakhine eth­nic peo­ple from else­where, he claimed, adding that lo­cals had no in­ter­est in get­ting in­volved in such ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We don’t like things like this. This was a re­li­gious build­ing, although it was not of­fi­cially a mosque,” he said. “We should re­spect the Mus­lim peo­ple.”

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