News / Asia

    Burma Town Under Curfew after Religious Violence

    Map of Meikhtila, BurmaMap of Meikhtila, Burma
    x
    Map of Meikhtila, Burma
    Map of Meikhtila, Burma
    Daniel Schearf
    Authorities in Burma have put a town under curfew after violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims left at least 10 people dead, including a Buddhist monk.  Tensions have been simmering in Burma since communal clashes last year killed nearly 200 people and left more than 100,000 homeless.

    Burma authorities say a nighttime curfew in the town of Meikhtila will remain in place after a second day of violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims.

    Hundreds of people rioted Wednesday, setting fire to shops and damaging at least two Muslim religious buildings.

    Local opposition politician Win Htein told VOA's Burmese service the situation was still unstable, despite the curfew.

    He says after the action he thought the riot would be settled down, but some local Burmese and a group of Muslims fought each other.  Local police, he says, could not disperse the crowds, so more than 10 people were killed in the fight.  He says now the area is under control, but in some other areas Muslims are attacking local Burmese.

    A local woman, who did not wished to be named, told VOA's Burmese service she was too afraid to go outside.

    She says even though the rioting settled down Wednesday, it is getting worse because some Muslims killed a monk. Now, she says, the crowds of monks and local Burmese are gathering.  She says she could not go out at all because all the roads are blocked.

    The central Burma town is 150 kilometers south of Mandalay.

    Burma online news media published photos of police carrying riot shields massing on the streets and crowds gathered in front of damaged shop fronts.

    Burma media reports say the fighting started after a dispute in a gold shop escalated between Buddhist customers and the Muslim owners.

    Joint General Secretary of Burma's Islamic Religious Council, Wunna Shwe, blames the unrest on a lack of rule of law.

    He says the argument happened between a shop owner and a customer.  He says local authorities should have taken immediate action on the unfairness of the case according to the law, but they failed to take action quickly and then the situation got out of control.

    Burma is a majority Buddhist nation with Burmese as the largest ethnic group.  But with numerous ethnic and religious minorities, occasional sectarian tensions erupt into violence.

    Last year, Burma's western Rakhine state was the scene of deadly clashes between Buddhists and Muslims. Nearly 200 people were killed and 120,000 left homeless, most of them a stateless Muslim minority called the Rohingya.

    Rights groups have expressed concern religious tensions could spread and disrupt Burma's reform efforts.

    U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, issued a statement saying he is deeply concerned about reports of violence and widespread property damage.  He also expressed condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and property.

    The embassy says it is closely monitoring events.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.