Amnesty International has slammed as a “criminal offense” the ransacking of a mosque by extremist Buddhists in Myanmar, saying the new act of violence against Muslim minorities must not go unpunished.
On Friday, a group of about 200 Buddhist extremists have raided a Muslim area of Thuye Tha Mein village in Myanmar’s Bago Province, destroying parts of a mosque and forcing residents to seek refuge overnight in a police station.
The violence erupted following an argument between the residents over the construction of a Muslim school in the area.
Reacting to the assault, Amnesty urged the Myanmarese government to take “swift action” and launch an “impartial” investigation to find those guilty.
“This incident must be immediately and independently investigated and those suspected of involvement must be brought to justice and victims receive effective remedies including reparations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Djamin further said the Naypyidaw government must censure the act of violence as “a criminal offence” which “will not be tolerated.”
A Muslim man talks on a mobile phone inside the destroyed mosque at Thuye Tha Mein village in Bago province on June 24, 2016. ©AFP
“It must also condemn unequivocally all incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination and take concrete action to protect the rights of all people in Myanmar regardless of their religion,” he added.
The UK-based rights body also warned Myanmar that any failure to serve justice would be a “worrying” sign of indifference towards attacks on religious minorities.
Plight of unwanted Muslims
Muslims living across Buddhist-governed Myanmar suffer persecution, but the Rohingya minority community in Rakhine State is suffering the most.
Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens. They have been denied Myanmarese citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982.
The Rohingya call themselves by this name, but Buddhists identify them as “Bengalis,” meaning they are immigrants from Bangladesh.
Ugly anti-Muslim sentiments among the radical Buddhists in Myanmar have led to numerous deadly attacks against the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom have been forced into camps or compelled to flee abroad.
On June 20, the UN warned that widespread and ongoing human rights violations against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could amount to crimes against humanity.
The world body called on the country’s leader San Suu Kyi to prioritize efforts to end the abuses against Rohingya Muslims.