Myanmar: 4 Killed, 100 Houses Burnt In Anti-Muslim Campaign

Myanmar attack

Buddhist mobs attacked Muslim neighbourhoods in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine State on Tuesday, killing at least four people, including a 94-year-old woman, just hours before a planned visit to the area by the President.

“Four people were reported dead and 50 more were injured by this evening,” said a police officer in Thandwe, about 270 km northwest of Yangon.

The mobs also burned down at least 100 houses and shops in villages neighbouring Thandwe city, he said.

“We can’t get the exact number of dead and injured now,” said Win Myaing, spokesman for the Rakhine State government. “We are trying to restore order,” he said by phone.

Buddhist mobs started setting fire to Muslim houses and shops in five villages around Thandwe on Tuesday, and police failed to contain it due to a lack of personnel, the police officer said.

Thandwe is situated more than 100 km south of Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State, which was the scene of bloody sectarian fighting last year that claimed at least 167 lives and left 140,000 homeless, most of them Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, has travelled to the western state of Rakhine on Tuesday in his first visit since sectarian violence broke out more than a year ago.

He arrived in the state capital of Sittwe and was scheduled to travel to several more towns in the area, including aungdaw to the north and Thandwe to the south

Sectarian clashes that began in Rakhine state in June 2012 have since morphed into an anti-Muslim campaign that has spread to towns and villages nationwide.

So far, hundreds of people have been killed and more than 140,000 have fled their homes, the vast majority of them Muslims.

89% of the Myanmmar population are Buddhists, Christianity and Islam are the closest to Buddhism with 4% each.

The Christian and Muslim populations do, however, face religious persecution, although Muslims have suffered more in recent times.

It is even hard, if not impossible, for non-Buddhists to join the army or get government jobs, the main route to success in the country.

Such persecution and targeting of civilians is particularly notable in Eastern Burma, where over 3000 villages have been destroyed in the past ten years. Western Myanmar seems to be catching up with the East, with the recent attack on Muslims.

More than 200,000 Rohingya Muslims have settled in Bangladesh over the last 20 years to escape persecution.