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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.