Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mob violence spreads in Bago


Thursday, 28 March 2013 15:37 Khaing Khaing and Saw Zin Nyi

Anti-Muslim mob violence broke out on Wednesday afternoon in Minhla and Zigon villages in the Bago Region, local residents told Mizzima.

At about 1 pm on Wednesday afternoon, about 1,000 people from Minhla and nearby villages destroyed mosques and property owned by Muslims, said Hla Hla Moe, a local resident.

“The mob destroyed some houses and some mosques. We heard that either two or three mosques were seriously damaged. But the mob did not harm anyone,” he said.

At around 4 pm, police and soldiers fired shots into the sky to disperse the mob, said Hla Hla Moe.

By 7 pm the streets were deserted, he said, as security forces enforced the curfew imposed under Section 144 on Tuesday.

Since the night of March 26, authorities have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew [6 pm to 6 am] in Okpho, Minhla and Gyobingauk townships, all of which are situated along Highway 2 in Bago Region, some 200 km north of Yangon on the road to Pyay.

Under Chapter VIII (Offences against Public Tranquility) of Myanmar’s Penal Code, Section 144 reads: “Whoever, being armed with any deadly weapon, or with anything which used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, is a member of an unlawful assembly, shall be punished with imprisonment of their description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

On March 25, the Myanmar government issued a press release, saying: “The government is making concerted efforts in democratic reform and development undertakings with added momentum. That is why people are urged to avoid acts of violence and religious extremism that could disrupt the reform process and development tasks.”

Than Aung, a resident living in Zigon, told Mizzima on Wednesday that the security forces failed to take action to prevent the mob from rioting in Zigon.

“They committed violence both yesterday and today. Starting from 3 am, they destroyed [the buildings] and the security forces did nothing. They were just watching the violence. Only when the unruly mob retreated did the security forces fire rubber bullets,” he said.

Local residents told Mizzima that they were unaware of any arrests made in Zigon and that calm was resumed in the town after 4 pm.

Khin Wine, a local resident said, “We heard that there were no casualties. In Zigon, most of the victims are Muslims. We feel very sad because the violence occurred although there was no grudge [against each other]. And the security forces took action only after the violence.”

Khin Wine added that the thugs are residents in the area and that the mob contained about 300 people. She said that the thugs destroyed religious buildings but that they did not harm any people.
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