Human Rights Groups Call for Investigation into Destruction of Mosques

A group of 19 community based organizations has called for an official investigation into the destruction of religious buildings in Burma.

The statement was signed on behalf of a range of ethnic and human rights groups both local and international including Burma Campaign UK, Fortify Rights, and the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand.

The statement comes after a spate of violent attacks against Muslim places of worship. On June 1, a violent mob attacked and destroyed a Muslim prayer hall in Kachin State, and another mob destroyed a Mosque in the Bago region.

In both cases, local authorities had failed to hold perpetrators accountable, the 19 CBO’s said.

“We expect the authorities to thoroughly and impartially investigate these crimes and ensure those responsible are held to account,” Khon Ja, an ethnic Kachin activist in Myanmar, said. “We don’t want to see more of this violence. The culture of impunity in Myanmar must come to an end,” Khon Ja added.

On June 29, Bago Region Chief Minister Win Thein confirmed to media that no legal action would be taken against the perpetrators of the destruction of the Mosque in Bago region. Win Thein told the Myanmar Times, “If we take action on people, the situation will be bad.” He added that the regional government would “supply aid to the Muslim people who suffered in the quarrel.”

Matthew Smith, director of Fortify Rights, condemned the response by local authorities.

“These acts of religious extremism aren’t spontaneous,” Mr Smith said, “The government needs to roll out a concerted effort to protect religious freedom and prevent future outbreaks of violence. It’s the duty of everyone in Myanmar to ensure that communities of all faiths can practice their religion with freedom from fear.”

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