Fresh unrest in Rakhine state

Muslim homes burned after attacks on Buddhists

Daniel Wynn, Yangon, Myanmar

October 8, 2012

Fresh unrest broke out in Rakhine state yesterday against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Houses in Sittwe, the provincial capital, were set ablaze by angry Buddhists, who were prevented from burning down the town’s largest mosque by police. The houses belonged to Muslims evacuated to refugee camps outside the town, following sectarian clashes between the two communities several months ago. The violence is thought to be in response to recent attacks on Buddhist villages and temples in neighboring Bangladesh. “We wanted to burn down the largest and oldest mosque in the town because we are so angry at the Rohingyas’ attacks against Buddhist monks,” said Ba Tun Aung, a Sittwe resident. He said Buddhists in Rakhine state have applied for permission to a stage protest today. According to Rakhine state attorney-general, Hla Thein, the situation in Sittwe is presently calm, but police have blocked major roads leading to mosques and Muslim homes to prevent further arson attacks. In Yangon, protests against the anti-Buddhist attacks in Bangladesh occurred over two consecutive days last week in front of the Bangladeshi embassy. Protesters were planning to take to the streets of the city again today. The Bangladesh government has accused the Rohingya refugees of being responsible for last week's incidents, which occurred after an alleged anti-Muslim photo showing a burned Qu’ran was posted on Facebook. Anti-Muslim protesters in Myanmar are now pointing to a photo depicting a young model on top of a reclining Buddha image. The protesters, who include monks, allege the photo was created and distributed on the internet by Muslims to insult Buddha. Related reports Rakhines burn about 200 Rohingya homes: villagers General says Rohingya crisis is under control