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Myanmar Arrests Hundreds After Mandalay Violence

Policemen patrol in a Muslim neighbouhood in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 4, 2014.

Policemen patrol in a Muslim neighbouhood in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 4, 2014.

Authorities in Myanmar, also known as Burma, say they have arrested at least 362 people following deadly sectarian violence in Mandalay that killed two people and injured more than a dozen last week.

Police in the central city Monday said most were taken into custody for violating a curfew order that was put in place to stem the violence. They add that more than 100 people have been released with warnings.

But Mandalay Police Chief Superintendent Zaw Min Oo told VOA Burmese that police are still seeking people suspected of involvement in the killings.

"Sixteen people were arrested while throwing stones and carrying sticks during the violence," he said. "Special investigators are now investigating them as well as questioning eyewitness and collecting other evidence in order to determine who will be the suspect."

Warning issued

The violence began last Tuesday when about 300 Buddhists converged on a tea shop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a Buddhist woman.

Myanmar President Thein Sein Tuesday warned his government will not tolerate any more violence.

"Those who involved in the violence and those who deliberately incited the violence will be thoroughly investigated and have serious action taken against them," he said. "I like to reiterate that the government will not tolerate inciting violence and destructive act and will take immediate and punitive action."

Authorities imposed an overnight curfew in seven townships of Mandalay and thousands of security forces were deployed following last week's violence.

Curfew order

Mandalay resident Min Htet Nyein Chan says no more violence has been reported, but daily commutes and business activities have been limited under the curfew order.

"Many teashop vendors, eyeing to boost their sale during the World Cup season, were forced to close their businesses. Businesses usually operate at night such as motorbike taxi, vegetables merchants and some other small activities are being affected," said Chan.

Meanwhile, activists and community leaders are urging authorities to take action against those who spread hate messages via social networks.

Muslim community leader Aye Lwin that people need to be vigilant with inciting messages.

"Fabricated information and for the worst, half-truth information with biased conclusion fueled grudges and hatred among different communities," he said.

Violence between Myanmar Buddhists and Muslims has flared frequently in recent years, with much of the attention being on strife involving Rohingya in Rakhine state.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.