News / Asia

    Curfew Imposed in Myanmar's Second Largest City

    • The grandmother of Tun Tun, a 36-year-old funeral bus driver killed in a recent riot, cries at a cemetery in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    • A Muslim looks down from the balcony of his home as police officers stand guard in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    • Muslims are pictured in front of their home in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    • Muslims pray near the body of Soe Min, a 51-year-old man who was killed in a recent riot, at a mosque in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    • Police officers guard a Muslim residential area in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    • Tin Tin Kyaw cries near the body of her husband Soe Min, a 51-year-old man who was killed in a recent riot, at a mosque in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    Reuters

    Two men were killed in a second night of rioting in Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar, also known as Burma, a security official said on Thursday, the latest flare-up in two years of sectarian unrest that threatens fledgling reforms.

    A Buddhist and a Muslim were killed and 14 people hurt, Aung Kyaw Oo, an army colonel in charge of security in the Mandalay region, told reporters.

    Police on Thursday imposed a curfew in the city from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. The clampdown followed two nights of violence starting on Tuesday when about 300 Buddhists converged on a tea shop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a Buddhist woman.

    Police stood between the Buddhists and a crowd of Muslims who gathered nearby and fired rubber bullets in an attempt to restore order. The crowd dispersed at about 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday, but witnesses said they saw groups of Buddhist men with sticks on the streets that evening.

    There has been no direct response from the central government to the unrest, although in a speech printed in state-run daily New Light of Myanmar, President Thein Sein called Myanmar a “multi-racial and religious nation” and warned against sectarian violence.

    “For the reform to be successful, I would like to urge all to avoid instigation and behavior that incite hatred among our fellow citizens,” he said in the speech, also broadcast on radio.

    Aung Kyaw Oo said police had arrested four people on Wednesday after the first night of rioting.

    The United States Embassy in Yangon posted on social media site Twitter on Thursday that "Rule by law, not rumor and mob action (is) essential for justice, stability and development."

    A senior police officer in the capital, Naypyitaw, told Reuters that charges of rape had been filed against the tea shop owner and his brother at a police station in Pyinmana, a town halfway between Mandalay and Naypyitaw where the rape allegedly took place.

    Thein Sein's government launched sweeping political and economic reforms after he took office in 2011 following 49 years of repressive military rule.

    However, it has struggled to contain outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence in which at least 240 people have been killed since June 2012. Most victims were members of Myanmar's Muslim minority, estimated to be about 5 percent of the population.

    The body of the Muslim who died lay shrouded in cloth at a mosque in the center of Mandalay, where community members gathered. One man unwrapped the cloth to show scars and stitches on the head and upper body.

    His wife sat next to the body, rocking back and forth and weeping. She said she pleaded with her husband not to leave the house, but he rode his bike to prayers and was attacked on the way at around 4 a.m.

    “His body lay there on the street for two hours before anyone took care of him,” she said, asking that her name be withheld.

    A similar scene unfolded under a canopy near a monastery on the outskirts of Mandalay where friends and family gathered for the funeral of the Buddhist victim. Thick stitches on his chin and forehead marked where he had been slashed and stabbed.

    Family members drove from the site in tears, refusing to speak. A man who declined to give his name said the victim was not involved in the riots but had gone out to collect money owed to him when he was attacked at around midnight. “They just wanted to attack him. There was no reason.”

    Muslims stay indoors

    Police officers guard a Muslim residential area in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.Police officers guard a Muslim residential area in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    x
    Police officers guard a Muslim residential area in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.
    Police officers guard a Muslim residential area in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 3, 2014.

    Mandalay, a city of about one million in the center of the country, remained tense on Thursday. Reuters reporters saw a heavy police presence and some streets were blocked by metal and wooden barriers strung with barbed wire.

    Shops in the Muslim neighborhood were closed and one resident said Muslims were staying inside, afraid their homes and businesses could be attacked.

    “Most Muslims are hiding and some shifted to other towns near Mandalay and to hotels,” he said, asking not to be named out of fear for his safety.

    Mandalay Police Chief Superintendent Zaw Min Oo told the VOA Burmese Service that ordering city residents off the streets had eased tensions.

    "The Mandalay Divisional government had issued a curfew and now the situation is calm and quiet. Now we can control the security condition during the night time because the curfew is already there," he said.

    Long considered the center of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning, Mandalay is home to a radical monk called Wirathu, known for his anti-Islamic sermons and call to boycott Muslim-owned shops. The city also has dozens of mosques and a sizeable Muslim population.

    Anti-Muslim violence is not new in Myanmar. The former junta imposed a curfew in Mandalay after riots in the city in 1997 following reports that a Muslim man had raped a Buddhist girl.

    But outbreaks of violence have become more common under the reformist government, which lifted restrictions on freedom of speech, including access to the Internet, which had previously been tightly controlled by the military. 

    (Some information in this report was done in collaboration with the VOA Burmese Service.)

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora