Indian Catholic News

Muslim leaders call on Myanmar government to take action

After mobs go on the rampage, the country's minority community asks for protection.

 
Mandalay: 

Muslim leaders in Myanmar have called on the government to protect their communities following two bouts of anti-Muslim violence in the Buddhist-majority country.

Kyaw Soe, secretary general of the Myanmar Maulawi Organization, said Muslim communities are currently living in fear following the destruction of a mosque by a mob in Hpakant township situated in the northern state of Kachin on July 1.

A week earlier, anti-Muslim mobs went on rampage in a village in Bago Division in southern central Myanmar where they destroyed a mosque, a school and houses on June 23.

Kyaw Soe said that security forces failed to stop the mob and now anti-Muslim violence could happen anywhere at anytime.

"We feel neglected by the government because they ignore our demands for meetings. The government has failed to take action against the perpetrators so they act without impunity," he told ucanews.com.

Myanmar's Islamic Religious Affairs Council, which is comprised of five Islamic organizations, sent a letter on July 2 to President Htin Kyaw asking the government to investigate the violence and take action against those who destroyed the mosques.

Tin Mg Than, the council's secretary general, said anti-Muslim sentiment has been growing in the predominately Buddhist country.

"The government must curb the growing hate speech against Muslims, instruct the security forces on how to prevent mob attacks and take swift action against the perpetrators according to the law," Tin Mg Than told ucanews.com.

The latest violence in Kachin State erupted as Yanghee Lee, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, ended her 12-day visit to the country on July 1.

Lee warned that "tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society."

Lee said she was concerned by reports that the government is not acting to stop the violence due to fears of fuelling greater tensions and provoking further conflict. "This is precisely the wrong signal to send," Lee said in a statement on July 1.

"The government must demonstrate that instigating and committing violence against an ethnic or religious minority community has no place in Myanmar," she said.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-Muslim nationalists staged a mass protest in 17 townships of the coastal state of Rakhine on July 3 against the government's use of the term "Muslims in Rakhine state" for the Muslim Rohingya minority.

As the Rohingya have no official status in Myanmar, most of the country's Buddhists refer to them as Bengalis, implying that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Communal violence in Rakhine during 2012 left more than 200 people dead and forced tens of thousands — mostly Rohingya — to flee their homes. Bouts of anti-Muslim violence have erupted since that time.

An estimated 140,000 people remain in temporary camps for displaced people in Rakhine.

Source: UCAN

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