Police charge three men who prayed in street after school where they used to worship was shut down by nationalists
Myanmar failing to stop spread of religious violence, UN envoy says
Authorities in Myanmar have charged three Muslim men for holding Ramadan prayers in the street after the local school where they used to worship was shut down by a nationalist mob.
Two nearby Islamic schools were closed in late April after ultra-nationalists complained that local Muslims were illegally using them to conduct prayers.
Authorities have said the closure is temporary, but have given no timeline for when they may be reopened.
“We feel sorry. This month is important for us,” said the local Muslim leader Zaw Min Latt, referring to the holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.
“We used those schools for prayer for decades. These restrictions have been brought in after more than 60 years.”
Local authorities issued a statement saying the prayer session threatened “stability and the rule of law” in the mainly Muslim neighbourhood in the east of Myanmar’s commercial capital.
A police officer who asked not to be named confirmed the charges.
Two officers tried to stop AFP journalists from filming when they visited one of the madrasas on Friday.
“It’s our mosque as well as our school. We don’t know when it will be reopened,” Khin Soe, a local resident in his 50s, said as he set off to pray in another part of town.
The case comes as Myanmar’s government has been seeking to clamp down on hate speech after a spike in anti-Muslim actions by hardliners from the country’s Buddhist majority.
Religious tensions have soared since a group of Rohingya Muslims attacked police posts in Rakhine state in October, sparking a bloody military crackdown that has drawn widespread international condemnation.
Last week Myanmar’s top Buddhist authority officially banned the Ma Ba Tha, an ultra-nationalist movement affiliated with the firebrand cleric Wirathu, which responded by simply changing its name.
The move came after nationalists this month clashed with Muslims in another Muslim neighbourhood in Yangon, after pushing police to raid a house there in search of illegal Rohingya Muslim hideouts.
၀တ္ျပဳေဆာင္ေတြကုိ ခ်ိတ္ပိတ္ထားလုိ႔ လမ္းေပၚထြက္ ၀တ္ျပဳတယ္။ ၀တ္ျပဳတဲ့လူေတြထဲက ဦးေဆာင္တယ္လုိ႔ ဆုိသူေတြကုိ တရားစြဲတယ္။
ဒါက တရားေသာ လုပ္ရပ္ ဟုတ္/မဟုတ္ ကမာၻႀကီးက ဆုံးျဖတ္လိမ့္မယ္။
ခင္ဗ်ားတုိ႔ ေ-ာက္ရွက္မရွိတဲ့ အစုိးရက ရွက္တတ္မွာ မဟုတ္တာေသခ်ာတယ္။ ဒါေပမယ့္ ခင္ဗ်ားတုိ႔ကုိ ကမာၻက တံေတြးေထြးမွာ အေသအခ်ာပဲ။
ေ-ာက္ဥပေဒက ကုိးကြယ္ရာဘာသာကုိ လုိက္ၿပီး ေျပာင္းေနလုိ႔ မရဘူး။
ကရင္ျပည္နယ္က ေ-ာက္ကတုံး သူမ်ား သာသနာပုိင္ေျမေတြမွာ သြားၿပီး ေစတီေဆာက္ေတာ့ ခင္ဗ်ားတုိ႔ ေ-ာက္ဥပေဒေတြ ဘယ္နားသြားထားခဲ့သလဲ?