News is spilling in from across our sources in Burma regarding a new development of violence against Muslims. Following on from yesterday's Rakhine Commission Report, sustained violence has spread to Oak Kan township in Bagu division, two hours North of Rangoon.
Rakhine Commision Report Stirs Violence
Whilst calling for more aid and access, the Rakhine Commision report failed to mention Rohingya community by name and instead referred to the community as Bengali settlers. This use of language is believed to have stoked the violence being witnessed today in Oak Kan township.
Violence broke out across three Muslim villages Chew Bon, Kyauk-Tet and Pea-net-Gone late this morning with sustained attacks on villagers shops and places of worship. As of this afternoon, a number of sources have reported that 2 mosques and 2 Islamic education schools have been destroyed and damaged. More than 150 shops have been damaged with high value goods being looted. In contrast to violence in Meikhtila and Arakan state, there have been fewer arson attacks.
A local activist who wished to remain anonymous reported:
'These villages were built by British before the independence and were populated by Bangladeshis to come and build the main railways and terminals in Rangoon. They have been naturalized as citizens and are simple people who are honest in trade and living. They have only been targeted because of yesterday's report which has suggested that the Rohingya are Bengali too and so the Buddhists attacked our local Burmese citizen Bengalis'
As attacks spread to other villages, local eye witnesses reported that the local police stations were surrounded by anti-Muslim mobs whilst destruction took place inside the village. The three villages are now believed to be encircled by police but crucially at the time of attack security was not provided to the Muslim population. From Chew Bon, we have received information that some villagers are taking refuge in nearby woodlands and forests. For the past four hours, telephone lines have also been cut off and it seems that a communication blockade has spread over Oak Kan township. Some images have emerged on Facebook and Twitter but these are thought to be from earlier in the day.
The violence erupted following a "body collision between a Monk and a Muslim woman". In anger at being pushed, the woman dislodged the alms bowl the monk was carrying. Folowing an exchange of heated words, the woman apologised for hitting the alms bowl as did the monk for pushing the woman. However, other local Buddhists became agitated at the diasgareement and this sparked a number of youth gathering at the local mosque and eventually leading to the destruction of that mosque.
Evening is falling across Oak Kan township and there is great concern that more violence will spread across the township which has already seen more than 150 shops damaged and looted and left two mosques destroyed and yet another Muslim community devastated.
Image tweeted by @nslwin