Burma Muslims Jailed After Anti-Muslim Riots
12 Apr 2013 08:18 GMT
 

YANGON - After the death of at last 43 Muslims, a Burmese court has sentenced three Muslims to 14-year prison terms, blaming them for the outbreak of violence last month in the southeast Asian country.

Shop owner Tun Tun Oo (more)

YANGON - After the death of at last 43 Muslims, a Burmese court has sentenced three Muslims to 14-year prison terms, blaming them for the outbreak of violence last month in the southeast Asian country.

Shop owner Tun Tun Oo, his wife Myint Myint Aye and an employee, Nyi Nyi, were each jailed for 14 years "for assault and theft" after an argument with a Buddhist customer, according to the state-run Kyemon newspaper, Reuters reported.

"That incident led to the outbreak of riots in Meikhtila," the newspaper said on Friday.

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According to court witnesses, Tun Tun Oo slapped a Buddhist woman who had accused employees of damaging a gold hair clip she wanted to sell last March 21.

A mostly Buddhist crowd gathered, hurling stones and shouting anti-Muslim insults, eventually destroying the shop and neighboring businesses.

The problem led to outbreak of anti-Muslim violence as 43 of Muslims were killed in attacks by Buddhist mobs.

The violence also saw arson attacks on dozens mosques and Islamic schools in several towns in central Burma.

Fears further gripped Burmese Muslims after a fire gutted an Islamic school on April 2, leaving 13 children dead.

Witnesses said monks led some of the mobs and took part in the killings in the central Burma town of Meikhtila.

The latest round of violence was triggered after monks preached a so-called “960 movement”, which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.

Police arrested more than 60 people after the riots in Meikhtila, state media reported. Thursday's convictions were the first in cases related to the trouble.

In an April 10 report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 8,441 people displaced by the violence remained in seven camps.

The government said 1,594 houses in and around Meikhtila were destroyed or damaged by arson.

Japan Visit

As the unexpected ruling was issued, members of Burma's Rohingya Muslim minority residing in Japan said they have been barred from a gathering for Aung San Suu Kyi when she visits the country.

“Because some Buddhist minorities are against our participation, even though I've been in Japan for decades and have helped other Myanmar nationals here, I was told by compatriot event organizers I won't be able to see Aung San Suu Kyi,” Zaw Min Htut, 42, the leader of some 200 Rohingya Muslims in Japan, said.

It is Suu Kyi's first visit to Japan in nearly three decades, after spending time as a researcher at Kyoto University from 1985-86.

During her six-day trip, the Nobel Peace prize laureate is expected to hold meetings with some of the approximately 10,000 Burmese nationals living in Japan, as well as with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Tension between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma has been simmering since last year's sectarian violence in western Rakhine state, which displaced thousands of Rohingya Muslims.

Many have heaped the blame on Buddhist monks for inciting violence against Muslims in the Asian country.

The latest round of violence was triggered after monks preached a so-called “960 movement”, which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.

Burma's Muslims -- largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent -- account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population.

Muslims entered Burma en masse for the first time as indentured laborers from the Indian subcontinent during British colonial rule, which ended in 1948.

But despite their long history, they have never fully been integrated into the country.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net



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