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HRW: 882 Homes Torched in Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma

Posted on 01 April 2013 by Emperor

Thematic Applications of Satellite Imagery for Human Rights Rese

Sectarian violence fanned by extremist Buddhist sermons continues to engulf Burma, pitting Buddhist vs. Muslims and causing severe damage to the property and livelihood of the Muslim minority.

882 Homes Torched in Meikhtila, Satellite Images Show

RANGOON—Satellite images released by Human Rights Watch on Monday revealed that during the recent unrest between Buddhists and the Muslim minority in Meikhtila town, mobs burned down three neighborhoods covering 60.5 acres and containing at least 828 homes.

The New York-based group urged the government to effectively stem the anti-Muslim violence in central Burma and put those responsible for the crimes on trial.

“The government should investigate responsibility for the violence in Meikhtila and the failure of the police to stop wanton killings and the burning of entire neighborhoods,” HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

The high-resolution images were taken a week after riots first erupted in Meikhtila, Mandalay Division, on March 20, and show that three areas were reduced to ashes as a result of arson attacks. Photos of the same area taken on Dec. 13 by comparison, show the neighborhoods intact.

HRW concluded in an imagery analysis that 828 homes were destroyed and 35 buildings severely damaged. “Damages are spatially concentrated within multiple areas of near total destruction measuring approximately 24.5 hectares [60.5 acres] in total area,” the group said, without specifying if the homes were owned by Muslims or Buddhists.

“The destruction appears similar to satellite imagery of towns affected by sectarian violence in Arakan State in 2012, in which arson attacks left large, clearly defined residential areas in ashes,” HRW said, referring to the clashes between Buddhist Arkanese and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, which killed scores of villagers and displaced 125,000 people, mostly Rohingyas.

Burma’s government should have learned the lessons of recent sectarian clashes in Arakan State and moved quickly to bolster the capacity of the police to contain violence and protect lives and property,” said Adams.

The riots in Meikhtila broke out on March 20 and clashes between majority Buddhists and the Muslim minority engulfed the town and 12,846 people fled. A state of emergency was declared on March 22 and the army restored calm.

The unrest subsequently spread to a total of 11 townships in Mandalay and Pegu divisions, where Muslim neighborhoods were ransacked. On March 28, President Thein Sein warned that the government would use force if necessary to quell the unrest. Soon after, the riots stopped.

According to government figures, a total of 43 people were killed and 93 were hospitalized in the riots, most of them in Meikhtila, while 1,227 homes, 77 shops and 37 mosques were destroyed. Police said 68 detainees were being charged for their role in the unrest.

However, the government’s lack of decisive action in protecting minority Muslim communities in recent violence has been heavily criticized, while the violence has also been blamed on those spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The spread of an anti-Islamic sentiment is “a serious challenge to the rights of Muslims in Burma,” HRW said, adding that, “Some well-known members of the Buddhist monkhood, or Sangha, have given sermons and distributed anti-Muslim tracts and directives that call on Buddhist residents to boycott Muslim businesses and shun contact with Muslim communities.”

“The government should also make it clear that it will not tolerate incitement to violence, especially by clergy or others in positions of authority,” the group said.

On Friday, the director of operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs John Ging wrapped up a visit to Burma.

Ging joined the growing number of international aid and rights groups who are warning that the government should improve the conditions in refugee camps of Rohingyas in Arakan State ahead of the nearing rainy season, and allow aid groups access to the sites.

“We must act immediately to prevent a predictable tragedy. Many of the camps where the IDPs are currently located are on low-lying ground which floods every year,” he said.

  • JD

    Muslims worry about broader France headscarf ban

    LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Because of her choice to wear a headscarf, Samia Kaddour, a Muslim, has all but abandoned trying to land a government job in France. Soon, some private sector jobs could be off limits, too.

    French President Francois Hollande says he wants a new law that could extend restrictions on the wearing of prominent religious symbols in state jobs into the private sector. His new tack comes after a top French court ruled in March that a day care operator that gets some state funding unfairly fired a woman in a headscarf, sparking a political backlash.

    As Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday, Kaddour attended the four-day Annual Meeting of Muslims of France in Le Bourget, north of Paris. The convention, which last year drew some 160,000 faithful and was expected to grow this year, is billed as the largest annual gathering of its kind in Europe. It is in its 30th year and ended Monday.

    French law bars state employees from wearing prominent religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps or large Christian crosses in public schools, welfare offices or other government facilities. Two years ago, France banned Muslim veils that cover faces, such as the niqab, which has a slit for the eyes, or the mesh-screen burqa, from being worn anywhere in public.

    Meeting leaders say France has made progress in accepting Muslims and noted that, unlike 30 years ago, women wearing headscarves today rarely draw suspicion, scowls or curiosity. Still, many Muslims — and even some Roman Catholics and Jews — fear France’s insistence on secular values first enshrined in the French Revolution more than two centuries ago is unfairly crimping their ability to express their religious beliefs freely.

    They also worry that Hollande’s Socialist government, like a conservative one before it, wants to score political points.

    “Islam has become a political instrument,” said Kaddour, 26, who is a community activist from the English Channel port city of Le Havre and one of 10 children of Algerian-born parents who moved to France for plentiful jobs during its economic boom times decades ago. “Islam is always brandished whenever there is internal political discord.”

  • mindy1

    we need to vaccinate against idiots

  • Al

    Dawkins himself has not commented on it, and I doubt he will.

  • JD

    Fla. State Senator: We Need to “Vaccinate” Against Shariah

    —By Tim Murphy| Fri Mar. 29, 2013 10:15 AM PDT


    As I reported in a piece for the print magazine last summer, Florida has emerged as sort of the Thunderdome of the anti-Shariah movement, with a host of lawmakers at the municipal, state, and federal level working hand-in-hand with a dedicated group of activists to combat the invisble spectre of Islamic law. Shariah isn’t coming to South Florida, but that hasn’t stopped the state legislature from trying—again—to ban it from being used in state courts.

    On Friday, the South Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations blasted out this video, in which state Sen. Alan Hays, the bill’s Republican sponsor, compares stopping Shariah to getting a polio vaccination:

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    It’s easy Snake it’s called double think.

  • Solid Snake

    I believe Dawkins should refrain from opening his mouth regarding these issues and stick to evolutionary Biology or whatever science he is known for. Personally, I respect scientists for their work but he and his followers dogmatic hold on islamophobic ideas has far overshadowed any accomplishment that could earn my respect. I have always wondered how someone like that can profess the ideals of reason and at the same time hold onto irrational sensationalist conspiracies. How can they reconcile these two seemingly contradictory beliefs. Oh well, I am sure he has no need for the respect of a dirty Muslim like myself, and I am happy to oblige :)

  • Tanveer Khan

    Thanks for the advice Senor BigBoss. Ive watched that video before, it was really good. I guess i heated up a bit too much…

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    I understand your frustration but Dawkins is not worth it. The best way deal with people like him is to just laugh at them and their foolish ideas.

  • Tanveer Khan

    I agree. But then again, its to be expected. Dawkins himself is a disgusting person.

  • Al

    That was the comment that I was really talking about. Despite evidently knowing nothing about the history of persecution that Muslims have experienced in Myanmar, that idiot Os comes out babbling, essentially defends violence against Muslims and sees the Buddhists being driven to it. I mean what? So it seems, to Os, the Muslims brought it on themselves. What was even more pathetic was that he backtracked and came out the old “I have a Muslim friend defence”.Some of the comments on that site really are disgusting at times.

  • Tanveer Khan

    882 homes?! That will probably be over a thousand people effected. :(

  • Tanveer Khan

    I have lost any shred of belief that Dawkins has an atom of humanity in him. I would smash him in the face if i met him.

  • mindy1

    :’( this level of hates hurts

  • Al

    And yet again it is not just the counter-jihad movement that have defended the attack on Muslims.

  • Pingback: HRW: 882 Homes Torched in Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper

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