Myan­mar vil­lage mosque de­stroyed, ten­sions bris­tle

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

YAN­GON—Scores of po­lice have been de­ployed to guard a vil­lage in cen­tral Myan­mar where re­li­gious ten­sions are run­ning high af­ter a Bud­dhist mob de­stroyed a mosque, au­thor­i­ties said Satur­day.

It is the lat­est flare-up of anti-Mus­lim vi­o­lence in Myan­mar, which has seen spo­radic bouts of re­li­gious blood­shed since 2012, with a surge of Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ism pre­sent­ing a key chal­lenge for Aung San Suu Kyi’s new gov­ern­ment.

The most re­cent vi­o­lence erupted this week when an an­gry mob of around 200 Bud­dhists ram­paged through a Mus­lim area of a vil­lage in Bago province fol­low­ing an ar­gu­ment be­tween neigh­bours over the build­ing of a Mus­lim school.

Own Lwin, the lo­cal po­lice chief, said the at­mos­phere re­mained tense Satur­day with around 100 po­lice of­fi­cers de­ployed to keep the peace.

“Last night, 50 po­lice guarded the vil­lage to pre­pare for ru­mours that there might be more un­rest. Now we have ar­ranged a po­lice force of up to 100 of­fi­cers,” he told AFP, adding that no ar­rests have been made over the de­struc­tion of the mosque.

Win Shwe, the mosque’s sec­re­tary, told AFP that Mus­lim res­i­dents fear for their safety and are plan­ning to move to a nearby town un­til the ten­sion cools. fo­mented across Myan­mar in re­cent years, with out­breaks of vi­o­lence threat­en­ing to un­ravel demo­cratic gains since the for­mer junta stepped down in 2011.

The worst re­li­gious vi­o­lence struck cen­tral Myan­mar and west­ern Rakhine State, which is home to the state­less Rohingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity, tens of thou­sands of whom still lan­guish in dis­place­ment camps af­ter ri­ot­ing.

Hard­line monks and Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ists fiercely op­pose moves to recog­nise the Rohingya as an of­fi­cial mi­nor­ity and in­sist on call­ing them “Ben­galis” — short­hand for il­le­gal mi­grants from the border with Bangladesh. Suu Kyi, a vo­cal cham­pion for hu­man rights, has been crit­i­cised for not tak­ing a stronger stance on the Rohingya or the abuse they face.

This month the UN warned that vi­o­la­tions against the group could amount to “crimes against hu­man­ity”. The No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate, now lead­ing Myan­mar’s first civil­ian gov­ern­ment in decades, has asked for “space” while her ad­min­is­tra­tion seeks to build trust be­tween re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties.—AFP

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