Myanmar police arrested and charged two monks and five Buddhist nationalists on Thursday for their involvement in a confrontation in a Yangon neighborhood where they claimed that ethnic Rohingya Muslims were hiding “illegally.”
Two men were injured in the scuffle during which local police fired shots into the air to disperse a crowd that had gathered at the scene in Mingala Taungnyunt township in the east-central part of the city, witnesses told RFA’s Myanmar Service on Wednesday.
Police Col. Khin Maung Oo filed the charges against the seven men, and a township judge issued arrest warrants for them for incitement to commit violence under section 505(c) of the country’s Penal Code.
They face prison sentences of up to two years and a fine.
Among those charged was Tin Htut Zaw, a Mingala Taungnyunt township resident who had joined the monks as police searched an apartment in a building in the township where the monks believed “illegal” Rohingya were hiding.
“The monks came into the township with about 20 policemen and asked us to go there together with them,” he said. “Police officers and township administrators told us to come along with them.”
“They said if we went there with them, it would show that the police went in because people informed them to go to these houses to conduct searches, and we could be witnesses,” he said. “But they also said they could not take many people with them. Finally, the police agreed to take six people, including me.”
Monks from the Patriotic Myanmar Monks Union, also known at Ma Ba Tha, had received information that some Rohingya were hiding in a building in the township, and they alerted police and immigration officials, a monk named Thuseitta from the Patriotic Young Monks Union told RFA on Wednesday.
Myanmar’s Buddhist majority views the Rohingya, a stateless group of 1.1 million who live mainly in the country’s western Rakhine state, as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and government policy has denied them citizenship and access to other basic rights for decades.
After a search of the premises, police determined that the occupants were there legally and took no further action against them.
But upon leaving the building, the monks got in a scuffle with locals, while a group of outsiders joined in.
Some witnesses said that Muslims who live in the area had attacked the monks and police with wooden sticks and knives, while others indicated that a group of nationalist outsiders who brandished weapons were responsible for the melee.
Full story: rfa.org
Reported by Nay Rein Kyaw, Kyaw Zaw Win, Aung Theinkha and Kyaw Min Htun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
Copyright © 1998-2017, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036. http://www.rfa.org.