Mus­lim men in Yan­gon face charges for keep­ing cows with­out per­mis­sion

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING shoonnaing@mm­times.com

THREE Mus­lim men have been ar­rested and are on trial for keep­ing 92 cows in a Yan­gon field with­out prior per­mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials from the Shwe Pyi Thar town­ship po­lice sta­tion.

The cows were in­tended for con­sump­tion dur­ing the reli­gious cer­e­mony Eid al-Adha. The reli­gious fes­ti­val has been a flash­point of con­tention in re­cent years, with some re­gional gov­ern­ments in­sti­tut­ing se­vere re­stric­tions on cat­tle slaugh­ter ahead of the event.

U Myo Myint, U Khin Soe and U Hla Myint Oo were ar­rested and de­tained at In­sein Prison fol­low­ing a law­suit filed by the Shwe Pyi Thar town­ship de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee ad­min­is­tra­tor. Ac­cord­ing to AFP, the source of the ini­tial com­plaint was a lo­cal monk, Pa Mouk Kha, who claimed the cows had been im­ported il­le­gally.

The three men were brought to an ini­tial trial hear­ing yes­ter­day, ac­cord­ing to U Bo Bo Htut, the deputy po­lice of­fi­cer in charge of Shwe Pyi Thar town­ship.

U Bo Bo Htut said that the sus­pects had been keep­ing the cows at a pas­ture with­out for­mal per­mis­sion. They have been charged un­der the 2012 Es­sen­tial Sup­ply and Ser­vices Act.

Town­ship MP U Yan Aung Min (NLD; Shwe Pyi Thar 1), said he be­lieves there could be an ul­te­rior mo­tive for the com­plaint filed against the men, and called on the po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate.

“If there is a case against them of course it will need to be in­ves­ti­gated and the judge will be the one to de­cide right and wrong,” he said.

U Kyaw Nyein, leader of lo­cal Mus­lim group Ulama Is­lam and chair of the Mus­lim Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion, told The Myan­mar Times that the case is re­li­giously mo­ti­vated, and would not have hap­pened if ob­ser­vant Mus­lims were openly al­lowed to cel­e­brate their reli­gious tra­di­tions with ease.

“There are al­ways a very small num­ber of per­mit­ted places for us to ob­serve this reli­gious cer­e­mony. The Mus­lims who would like to ob­serve the event have to ne­go­ti­ate each year with the re­gional au­thor­i­ties to do it,” he said.

Also known as the Feast of the Sac­ri­fice, Eid al-Adha marks the will­ing­ness of the prophet Abra­ham to sac­ri­fice his son, Is­mael, out of reli­gious de­vo­tion. How­ever, the sac­ri­fic­ing of an­i­mals is con­tentious in Myan­mar be­cause a cen­tral tenet of Bud­dhism for­bids the tak­ing of life, and na­tion­al­ist monks have lob­bied to out­law the an­nual sac­ri­fice.

U Kyaw Nyein asked the gov­ern­ment to re­con­sider whether crim­i­nal charges against the three men were nec­es­sary since they were only try­ing to ob­serve a reli­gious fes­ti­val, and had no in­ten­tion of dis­turb­ing oth­ers.

“I just want to re­quest the au­thor­i­ties to take lighter ac­tion. But of course, we have to wait and see the re­sults,” he said.

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