Buddhist extremist sets fire to mosque in Myanmar

July 2, 2016 10:00 am

A man walks inside the destroyed
mosque at the village of Thuye Tha Mein ’s Bago Province on June
24, 2016, one day after a mob of around 200 Buddhists rampaged through
the Muslim prayer site. ©AFP

A Buddhist mob has reportedly
set a mosque on fire in northern Myanmar in a fresh act of violence
against Muslim minorities in the Southeast Asian country.

Buddhist
extremist residents of the town of Hpakant ransacked the mosque on
Friday while “wielding sticks, knives and other weapons” before burning
it down, the state-run English daily, the Global New Light of Myanmar
reported.
“The mob was unresponsive and entirely beyond control. The building was razed by the riotous crowd,” the report said.
The
raid was triggered by a dispute over the mosque’s construction, the
report said, adding that police have made no arrests over the assault.
This was the second such attacks on a Muslim prayer site in just over a week in the Buddhist-majority state.
On
June 23, a group of about 200 Buddhist extremists raided a Muslim area
of Thuye Tha Mein village in Myanmar’s Bago Province, destroying parts
of a mosque and forcing residents to seek refuge overnight in a police
station.
The violence broke out following an argument between the residents over the construction of a Muslim school in the area.
Amnesty
International slammed the June 23 raid as a “criminal offense,” urging
the Myanmarese government to take “swift action” and launch an
“impartial” investigation to find those guilty.
“This incident
must be immediately and independently investigated and those suspected
of involvement must be brought to justice and victims receive effective
remedies including reparations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty’s Director
for Southeast and the Pacific.

Yanghee
Lee, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights
in Myanmar, speaks during a conference in Yangon, Myanmar, July 1,
2016. ©ReutersThe new attack came on the same
day that Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on the
situation of human rights in Myanmar, warned that “tensions along
religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society.”
In a
press conference concluding her 12-day visit to the Asian country, she
urged the government to “demonstrate that instigating and committing
violence against an ethnic or religious minority community has no place
in Myanmar.”
The UN official further called for the improvement of
living conditions in the cramped and decrepit camps for Rohingya and
other Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, highlighting the need for
putting an end to “institutionalized discrimination against Muslim
communities” there.
Muslims living across Buddhist-governed
Myanmar suffer persecution, but the Rohingya minority community in
Rakhine is suffering the most.
Myanmar’s government refuses to
recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens. They have been denied Myanmarese
citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982.
The
Rohingya call themselves by this name, but Buddhists identify them as
“Bengalis,” meaning they are immigrants from Bangladesh.
Hidenous
anti-Muslim sentiments among the radical Buddhists in Myanmar have led
to numerous deadly attacks against the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom
have been forced into camps or compelled to flee abroad.
Last
month, the UN warned that widespread and ongoing human rights violations
against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could amount to crimes against
humanity.

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