Burma: Buddhist Mob Attacks Muslim Properties and Mosques in Oakkan Town
The violence against the Muslim community has spread outside of Rakhine (Arakan) state in Burma and is not limited to the Rohingya anymore. There have been several stories over the past month of violence directed at Muslims that we have not covered but suffice it to say the perpetuation of hate and violence continues in Burma.
There have been some (mostly cosmetic) efforts by the Burmese government to change the situation but there haven’t been any practical steps to curb extremist monks preaching Islamophobia.
UPDATE: The attack was worse than initially reported:
At least 10 people have been injured in central Myanmar after mobs set fire to hundreds of homes and overrun two mosques.
Tuesday’s flare-up in Okkan, 110 kilometres north of Yangon, is the latest anti-Muslim violence to shake the Southeast Asian nation.
In Chauk Tal, an outlying village, leaping flames still rose on Tuesday night from the remains of several fiercely burning structures, while distressed villagers cried and hurled buckets of water to try and douse the flames.
In Okkan two mosques were overrun and looted, while Muslim homes in three nearby villages were torched in arson attacks.
“They came around 1pm and most of the people were from this town, not from outside. There were around 50 of them,” said Khin Maung Than, a 60-year-old shopkeeper in Okkan.
Local police said hundreds of people participated in the attacks. There were no immediate reports of deaths.
Stopping the spread of sectarian violence has proven a major challenge for Thein Sein’s reformist government since it erupted in western Rakhine state last year.
Human rights groups have recently accused the president’s administration of failing to crack down on Buddhist anger as violence has spread closer to the economic capital, Yangon, at times overwhelming riot police who have stood by as machete-wielding crowds attacked Muslims and their property.
Last week, Human Rights Watch issued the most comprehensive and detailed account yet of the violence in Rakhine state.
The report accused authorities, including Buddhist monks, local politicians and government officials, and state security forces, of fomenting an organised campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya.
Hundreds of people were killed there.
Some 125,000 people, mostly Muslims, remain displaced with large swathes of the state effectively segregated along sectarian lines.
Muslims account for about four percent of the nation’s roughly 60 million people.
During the long era of authoritarian rule, military governments twice drove out hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, while smaller clashes occurred elsewhere.
About one-third of the nation’s population consists of ethnic minority groups. Some have waged wars against the government for autonomy.