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Hard-line monks deny involvement in Yangon violence

Members of Ma Ba Tha claim Muslim scuffle accusation was designed to destroy organization's image

Hard-line monks deny involvement in Yangon violence

Myanmar riot police in Yangon's Mingalar Taung Nyunt township early on May 10, after scuffles broke out between Buddhist nationalists and Muslims. (Photo by Myo Min Soe/AFP)

May 17, 2017

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An ultra-nationalist monk organization in Myanmar on May 16 denied it was involved in a violent confrontation between Buddhists and Muslims last week in a Yangon neighborhood where monks had claimed that ethnic Rohingya Muslims were hiding illegally.

Monks from the Patriotic Myanmar Monks Union, also known at Ma Ba Tha, told a press conference in Yangon that the group had been falsely accused of provoking a May 9 conflict with Muslims in Mingala Taungnyunt township in the east-central part of the city, Radio Free Asia reported .

Two people were injured during the melee during which police had to fire warning shots into the air to disperse a crowd that had gathered.

"We are holding this press conference because Ma Ba Tha didn't know or do anything regarding the incident in Mingala Taungnyunt, though some well-known people have accused us of doing it," said Pyinnya Wara, a Ma Ba Tha leader. "[The] monks who participated in the incident said they were not from Ma Ba Tha."

"We see that some people are trying to destroy Ma Ba Tha's image," he said.

A monk named Thuseitta from the Patriotic Young Monks Union told RFA on May 10 that Ma Ba Tha monks had received information that some Rohingya were hiding in apartments on two floors of a building in Mingala Taungnyunt township. They then alerted police and immigration officials who searched the premises.

After police determined that no one in the apartments was there illegally, a scuffle between the monks and Muslim residents broke out as the monks left the building.

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