Buddhist Mob Burns Down Mosque in Northern Myanmar
KACHIN – An angry mob of Buddhists in northern Myanmar has burned down a mosque in the second such attack in just over a week in the predominantly Buddhist nation, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar said security forces in Hpakant in Kachin state were unable to control attackers, who were armed with sticks, knives and other weapons.
It said the mosque’s leaders had failed to meet a June 30 deadline set by local authorities to tear down the structure to make way for construction of a bridge.
On June 23, a mob demolished a mosque and a Muslim cemetery in a village in Bago Region, about 60 kilometers (36 miles) northeast of Yangon, reportedly as a consequence of a personal dispute.
Sporadic but fierce violence against Muslims in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has occurred since rioting in 2012 forced more than 100,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to flee their homes in western Rakhine State.
Discrimination against the Rohingya is widespread and the government refuses to recognize most as citizens, treating even long-term residents as illegal immigrants.
The U.N. special human rights envoy to Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, ended a 12-day tour of the country urging that the recently seated government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi clamp down on such attacks.
“It is clear that tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society. Incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance continue to be a cause for concern,” Lee said in a statement Friday.
She expressed specific concern over attacks on religious properties.
“It is vital that the government take prompt action, including by conducting thorough investigations and holding perpetrators to account. I am therefore concerned by reports that the government will not pursue action in the most recent case due to fears of fueling greater tensions and provoking more conflict. This is precisely the wrong signal to send,” she said, referring to the June 23 incident.
No one has been arrested for the destruction of the mosques, though the Global New Light of Myanmar said authorities were investigating the attack in Hpakant.
Human rights groups have criticized Suu Kyi for failing to act decisively against the Buddhist extremists encouraging the attacks. The military-backed government she succeeded also did little to ease tensions.
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