Author Topic: Muslims Linked to Riots Given Prison Terms in Myanmar  (Read 3858 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4124
    • Email
Muslims Linked to Riots Given Prison Terms in Myanmar
« on: May 24, 2013, 04:00:50 PM »
Sigh, more unfairness in Myanmar...

Muslims Linked to Riots Given Prison Terms in Myanmar
Khin Maung Win/Associated Press

Men convicted in the trial protested the sentences. Many human rights groups say that most of the violence was carried out by Buddhist mobs.
Published: May 21, 2013

BANGKOK — A court in Myanmar sentenced seven Muslim men to prison on Tuesday on charges related to the spasms of religious violence two months ago that left more than 40 people dead and chased thousands of people from their homes in central Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Leader Says He May Use Force to Halt Deadly Rioting (March 29, 2013)
After 3 Days of Violence, City in Myanmar Counts the Dead (March 24, 2013)
Myanmar Troops Sent to City Torn by Sectarian Rioting (March 23, 2013)

Connect With Us on Twitter
Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.
Twitter List: Reporters and Editors
A prominent Muslim questioned why Muslims had been the first to be prosecuted when witnesses and human rights groups agree that most of the violence had been carried out by Buddhist mobs attacking Muslims.

In the only other convictions related to the violence, two Muslims who owned a gold shop and their employee were each sentenced in April to 14 years in prison for aggravated assault, robbery and attempts to cause injury and for aiding and abetting criminal activity. The religious rioting is believed to have been incited by a dispute with a customer in the shop.

“I feel it is a one-sided trial against the Islamic community here,” said U Thein Myint, a leading member of the All Myanmar Islamic Scholars Organization, a group of Muslim religious teachers based in Yangon, the country’s largest city.

“The very first two trials regarding the Meiktila violence are all about Muslims,” he said, referring to a city in central Myanmar where the three days of rioting in March were centered.

In the court on Tuesday, U Myat Ko Ko, a motorcycle taxi driver in Meiktila, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of a Buddhist monk. He was given an additional four-year sentence for inciting unrest and “insulting religious beliefs.”

The six other Muslim men who were sentenced Tuesday were given prison terms ranging from 2 to 28 years.

The lawyer for the seven men, U Thein Than Oo, said they all denied any involvement in the monk’s killing and would appeal their sentences.

The Myanmar authorities say that more than 60 Buddhists have been detained for their role in the violence and that trials are expected soon. “The police already sent 35 cases related to the Meiktila unrest to the Justice Department,” said U Kyi Shein, an officer at the Myanmar police force crimes division. “The Justice Department has to deal with those files.”

But Mr. Thein Than Oo said the way that the Buddhists were being treated was in marked contrast with the trial of the Muslims, which “was concluded urgently.”

“It seems that the authorities are worried about public anger,” he said, referring to widespread feeling among Buddhists, who are a majority in Myanmar, toward Muslims. “On the other hand, there has been silence about the murder of 28 children at a madrasa in Meiktila.”

Physicians for Human Rights, an organization based in the United States that brings attention to and researches abuses, published a report on Monday detailing what it called “organized attacks against Muslims” in Meiktila. The report, based on interviews with eyewitnesses, said that at least 20 children and four teachers from the madrasa, or Islamic school, had been killed and that the authorities had “stood by” and were “complicit” in the violence.

About 9 out of 10 people in Myanmar are Buddhist, and as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule, there have been signs of growing intolerance toward minorities in the country, particularly Muslims. The United States State Department said in a report released on Monday that the government “limited freedom of religion” and “actively promoted Theravada Buddhism over other religions, particularly among certain ethnic minority populations.”

Two outbursts of rioting by Buddhists toward Muslims in western Myanmar over the past year forced more than 100,000 Muslims from their homes.

The rioting in Meiktila in March spread to other towns and villages in the country’s heartland. The death of the Buddhist monk appears to have been one of the events that incited the riots.

Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, who met President Obama on Monday in Washington, emphasized religious tolerance in a speech and called for a “more inclusive national identity.”

“Myanmar people of all ethnic backgrounds and all faiths — Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and others — must feel part of this new national identity,” he said. “We must end all forms of discrimination. And we must ensure not only that intercommunal violence is brought to a halt, but that all perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Mr. Obama said violence directed toward minorities “needs to stop.”

Wai Moe contributed reporting from Yangon, Myanmar.