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

Multimedia In US, Decision Expected Soon in Racially Charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid