Religiously Motivated Riot Breaks out in Rangoon

July 23, 2007

Author: Nan Kham Kaew

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma

July 23, 2007 (DVB)—A riot reportedly broke out between Muslim and Buddhist residents in Rangoon’s Daw Pon township late on Friday, forcing local authorities to issue a curfew.

Eyewitnesses said that the riot started after a Muslim man and two Buddhist men quarreled at a local bar, causing religious tensions to escalate.

“The fight started at a place between fourth and fifth streets. We saw people rushing to the scene . . . It started at about the same time that Muslim residents go home for their Friday prayers so many of them saw what was happening and joined in,” one onlooker said.

“One of the Buddhist men had his arm broken.”

The fight escalated further as increasing numbers of Buddhist residents joined in to fight back against the groups of Muslim men. Residents said at the height of the riot, the streets were full of men armed with makeshift weapons.

Burmese military troops then arrived at the scene in vehicles and on foot, ordering everyone off the street and imposing a curfew.

“Everyone stayed inside as they were told. After that, there was no one on the street,” one resident said.

Troops reportedly took position in areas heavily populated by Muslims and near mosques. The electricity was also reportedly cut to several areas of the township.

The following day, two Muslim and six Buddhist men were arrested by the local authorities for their involvement in the incident locals told DVB.