Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Burma’s Meik-hti-lar Burning By Race Riots!

(This post is direct translation from the EMG and other Burmese blogs.)

A Mosque-and-madrassa burning in Meik-hti-lar.
Meik-hti-lar in Middle-Burma has been burning since yesterday midday by the ugly race riots ignited by a small commercial dispute at a gold shop in the main market.

A rural Burmese couple was trying to sell a gold hair-clip to the gold shop and they claimed the Chinese owners first damaged their gold piece and later cheated more than 60,000 kyats (about 70 US$) out of them.

The ugly dispute turned into a violent scuffle and the owner couple and their friends seriously injured the Burmese couple in the brawl. The false news that the Burmese village woman was killed by the Chinese spread like a wildfire and a Burmese mob gathered at the scene. The Burmese destroyed the gold shop first and later other shops and houses nearby.

Later the owners of the Chinese gold shop are rumoured to be a Chinese-Muslim couple and many angry Burmese mobs all over the town took it out on the general Muslim populace as the race riots spread further into the town’s residential wards.

The riots started at just before midday yesterday (March 20 Burma-time-zone) and at about 8 last night the Thiri-Mingala Mosque near the market and some other mosques were burning and a Buddhist monk was rumoured to have been killed by the retaliating Muslims.

Armed-Burmese mob on a street of Meik-hti-lar.
Burmese Couple was Just Selling Their Gold Piece to The Chinese

According to the locals the rural Burmese couple, from Pyan-kouk village of Kwet-nge village-tracts, Khin Maung Win (45) and his wife Aye Naing (46) were trying to sell a gold hair-clip at Weint-sein gold shop in the Meik-hti-lar Myoma Bazaar’s East Row at about 10 in the morning.

The Chinese owner  Htun Htun Oo (23) then tried to grade the gold piece and in the process he accidentally or intentionally broke the hair-clip. Instead of original agreed-price of 120,000 kyats he then offered only 58,000 kyats for the broken-piece and the result was a bitter dispute soon turning quickly into violent scuffle.

According to the seller Khin Maung Win he was punched first by the owner Htun Htun Oo and later by his wife and other accomplices.

“He punched me first. As I was defending meself and me wife two men and the owner’s wife ran out from the back of the shop and jumped on both of us. About 8 men from other gold shops also came in to attack us. So we fled onto the road and yelled people around to help us,”  said Khin Maung Win later at the police station.

He also added that he was at least hit four times by iron rods and his head was broken and bleeding. “They are yelling at each other to kill my husband while bashing him with iron rods,” claimed also his wife Aye Naing.

By then about 100-strong Burmese crowd was already there and growing by the hour. Soon the nearly 300-strong crowd destroyed the Weint-sein gold shop and then other gold shops and houses nearby.

Damaged gold shops in Meik-hti-lar Myo-ma Bazaar.
Burmese mob attacking Chinese-Muslim shops and houses in Meik-hti-lar.
A damaged Muslim-house in Meik-hti-lar.
Commercial Dispute Turned into Racio-Religious Riots

As the false news of the death of gold-seller’s wife spread like wildfire to other parts of town other false news that the gold-shop owner couple were Chinese-Muslims (Panthay) also was deliberately disseminated by unknown agitators.

The Burmese town folks already deeply agitated by the Muslim unrests in Rangoon and Mandalay and Moulmein then gathered en-mass and started attacking the innocent Muslims and destroying their mosques and madrassas.

By 8 pm last night the Muslim quarter of Meik-hti-lar was burning and the largest mosque Thgiri-mingalar Mosque and some other smaller mosques had also been burning.

Thiri Mingalar Mosque, the largest mosque, in Meik-hti-lar.
The main road in Meik-hti-lar town.
Meik-hti-lar Mosques Are Burning and A Buddhist Monk Killed?

At 8:15 last night the large mosque near Taw-win-nan Hall was completely destroyed and the mob was attacking the Muslim ward Aungzeya Ward. A Buddhist monk was reported to have been fatally wounded by the retaliating Muslim mob and later died at the Meik-hti-lar Hospital.

The main Myo-ma Bazaar is now closed indefinitely and local police and the police reinforcements from the nearby towns were trying desperately to restore law and order in Meik-hti-lar.

The police have even released the photos of the gold-shop owner couple to kill the devastating rumors that they were Chinese-Muslims. But they also arrested the owner Htun Htun Oo (23), his wife Myint Myint Aye (25), and his brother Nyi Nyi (18) and charged them with thieve and assault and inciting public violence.
Riot police battalions restoring law and order in Meik-hti-lar.
Map of Meik-hti-lar city the cross-highways-junction in Middle Burma.

To Be Updated as the Events Progress…..