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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid