Report on the Situation of Muslims in Burma

May 1997
From: sitthipong 

I   M   A   G   E   S      A   S   I   A


"Burmese Citizens Beware!"

"... Malaysia and Indonesia were once Buddhist countries in history, but
unfortunately the Muslims used(their) methods (to expand their religion) so
successfully that they have become Muslim countries; Buddhism has
disappeared from these countries....  Bear in mind that the four social
causes of the SLORC must be accomplished...."

- excerpts from an anti-Muslim pamphlet  in Burmese, distributed in Rangoon
prior to October 1996

A plea to Asean:

"Even if we can't fight with guns, we'll fight with words. We will tell the
whole world what is happening to us.

"The SLORC is only good at fighting.  The countries who are supporting the
SLORC don't know what the SLORC is doing. I want ASEAN countries to know
what the SLORC is doing.  If Burma enters ASEAN, we will have to fight.  We
won't surrender. We hope ASEAN won't let them in.

"We are so disappointed that Muslim countries are supporting the SLORC.  Why
are they doing this?  There are 7 million Muslims in Burma; why aren't they
looking at us?  Please send this news to them.  Today we are suffering
because of the actions of our Muslim brothers in Indonesia and Malaysia."

- Muslim refugee from Duplaya District,  Karen State, March 1996

Time For Change

"A whole book can be written to substantiate the anti-Muslim movement
existing in Myanmar and the authorities turning a blind eye, not realising
that this can lead to very dangerous and disasterous consequences.  Let
saner thoughts prevail."
- Muslim observer of the riots in Mandallay, March 1996

MAY 1997

Executive Summary
Other Areas
Duplaya District,  Karen State 
Excerpts of Statements from Burmese Opposition Groups
Conclusions and Recommendations
Appendix:  List of monks who have died in prison


This documentation has been compiled to summarize existing information about
recent attacks on Muslims in Burma.  References within the report have been
provided wherever possible.  In order to protect the identities of refugees
and those inside Burma who have given information or opinions, personal
names have been omitted or changed.  The authors would like to thank
BurmaNet and Burma Centrum Nederlands for sharing their information on the
subject, as well as the Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB)  and
the All Burma Young Monks Union (ABYMU).  The authors would also like to
thank those Burmese who assisted with translating and finding information.
For reasons of security, they cannot be named.  A great deal more
information is needed to answer the many questions that still remain about
what has happened in Muslim communities in Burma in recent months.  We urge
others to enlarge the search for this information and make the full story

Executive Summary

Burma has a long and unfortunate history of discrimination against its
Muslim citizens.  With precedents for communal violence set in the past, the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) have found it expedient on
numerous occasions to exploit religious and ethnic tension, especially when
it can be directed towards Muslim people, to divide the public and distract
attention from other political and social issues.

Two very trenchant examples of the SLORC's real attitude towards Muslims
have come to light in 1997.  During an offensive against the Karen National
Union (KNU) in Karen State during February and March 1997, Muslims were
explicitly targeted for persecution.  Acts of violence, destruction, and
sacrilege perpetrated by SLORC soldiers against Burmese Muslims, their
mosques and their properties, drove many to flee as refugees from their
homes and seek temporary sanctuary in Thailand.  

In early March, attacks on Muslims and their properties broke out in
Mandalay and other Burmese cities.  The authorities did not take decisive
action to stop violence, leaving terrified Muslim communities to defend
themselves.  In fact, the SLORC are widely suspected of having actually
instigated the events to deflect focus from a looming crisis between
themselves and the Burmese Sangha (Buddhist clergy). Given the SLORC's
history of creating religious unrest as a distraction in times of economic
and political turmoil, it should be asked what role they have played in
inciting or even orchestrating the March anti-Muslim attacks.

Now that Burma has been accepted into ASEAN, the ASEAN nations, particularly
those which have significant Muslim populations, have a role to play in
pressuring SLORC to treat Muslims and all ethnic and religious minorities in
accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We urge ASEAN
members to demand further investigation into situations occurring between
February and April 1997 in Muslim communities, to determine where the real
responsibility for recent unrest lies.  As long as Burmese Muslim
communities are deprived of the benefit of full protection under the law,
Muslim people in Burma will live in fear and uncertainty.  

This following information has been compiled from testimonies of witnesses,
statements, and other documentation of abuses against Muslims in Burma.  


In Burma today, there are estimated to be approximately seven million
Muslims.  Large numbers of Indians of both Muslim and Hindu faiths migrated
to Burma during the colonial period.  Many were employed by the British in
the colonial administration, while others became traders, landowners, and
money lenders.  Generally accorded higher status by the British, the Indians
were often resented by the Burman population and frequently became targets
of Burman anti-colonialist actions.

Muslims in Burma have frequently been the victims of discrimination.
According to Burma-specialist Martin Smith, "Even today, although no one
likes to admit it, there is an underlying prejudice by many government
officials and Burmese Buddhists in general against Christians and ethnic
minority groups, such as the Karens or Kachins, whom they still identify
(sometimes in the state-controlled media) as supporting the British under
colonial rule.  However, it is the Muslims of Arakan -- and inhabitants of
ethnic Indian origin in general -- who have clearly borne the brunt of this
resentment."  (Martin Smith, "The Muslim 'Rohingyas' of Burma,"  paper
delivered at Conference of the Burma Centrum Nederlands, 11 December 1995,
and Human Rights Watch/Asia, Update on the Rohingya situation in Bangladesh
and Burma, 6 October 1996.)

Both in 1978 and in 1991, the Burmese army launched campaigns which Muslim
leaders claim were aimed at forcing the Muslim population out of Burma.  The
campaigns resulted both times in the arrival of hundreds of thousands of
Muslim refugees from Burma into Bangladesh, and were accompanied by gross
human rights violations.  While the UNHCR is completing a repatriation
scheme for over 200,000 Muslim refugees in Bangladesh, the situation in
Burma itself has not fundamentally changed:  Muslims in Arakan (Rakhine)
State are still discriminated against, are not entitled to Burmese
citizenship, and their freedom of movement is restricted.  Human Rights
Watch/Asia stated in October 1996 that forced labour in Arakan State "has
increased in many areas to an average of 20 days per month, and that the
confiscation of land and forced relocation of Muslim villages has also
increased in Maungdaw township."  Freedom of movement for Muslims in their
own area is severely restricted.  (At the time o
f writing, Muslims from Akyab, Arakan State, were only able to travel to
Rangoon if they could pay 120,000 kyat for a black-market plane ticket; the
normal ticket price is just over 600 kyat.)

The SLORC has often tried to stir up religious and racial tensions in Burma
in order to divide the population and divert attention from other political
and economic concerns.  In 1988, the SLORC provoked anti-Muslim riots in
Taunggyi and Prome during the pro-democracy movement.  In May 1996,
anti-Muslim literature widely believed to have been written by the SLORC was
distributed in four towns in Shan State, leading to violent incidents.  In
September 1996, the SLORC razed a 600-year old mosque in Arakan State and
used the rubble to pave roads between new military base camps in the area.
The SLORC also conducted an anti-Muslim campaign during the February-March
1997 offensive in Karen State.  Several mosques were destroyed, Korans
ripped up or burned, and Muslims were driven out of Karen State.  

Most recently, the SLORC have been accused of instigating attacks against
Muslims and of exacerbating existing tensions between the Muslim and
Buddhist communities in Central Burma.  In March 1997, it was reported that
anti-Muslim riots broke out in several towns and cities.  Incidents
involving monks and Muslims occurred in Mandalay, Mon Ywa, Moulmein, Kyauk
Phyu, Magwe Division, and Rangoon between 15 and 28 March.  In the English
language Thai newspaper, The Nation, a picture was published of monks
attacking a mosque while Burmese security troops looked on, doing nothing to
stop the destruction.  

Muslim and Buddhist organisations have accused the SLORC of redirecting
these riots, which began as demonstrations by monks in Mandalay over other
issues.  The monks were demanding the release of monks from prison, and
awaiting official answers from the SLORC about reported damage to the
revered Maha Myatmuni pagoda Buddha-statue.  

Muslim organizations from Burma are demanding to know why the SLORC did not
take action during the riots; and why predominantly Muslim countries in
ASEAN continue to support the SLORC, even allowing the SLORC to join ASEAN,
given the SLORC's persecution of Muslims in Burma.


Mandalay area:
1. Kaindan Mosque
2. Waukhan Mosque
3. Thanlan Mosque
4. Kungyan Hlwa Daung 
5. Jame Mosque, Amarapura
6. Another mosque in Amarapura
7. Payagyi Mosque
8. Panset Mosque
9. Aledaung Mosque
10. Ashechore Mosque
11. Anauk Choke Mosque
12. Dunun Mosque
13. Seinpan Mosque
14. Panlachan Mosque

1. Surti Mosque
2. Bengali Mosque
3. One mosque, name unknown

Pegu Division:
1. Surati mosque, Prome
2. Kharkahr mosque
3. Shwekyarbin mosque
4. 3 mosques confirmed damaged in Pegu, no names given

1. Yankin (Kanbe) Mosque
2. Pazundaung Mosque (twice)
3. Eidgah Mosque
4. 48th Street Mosque & school
5. Myiningone Mosque
6. Sanchaung Mosque
7. Two mosques in Kyimyindaing 
8. Ayethakar quarter mosque in Ahlone township
9. Wartan Street mosque
10. Bangarlisu mosque, Thein Pyu Road
11. No. 7 Quarter mosque, South Okkalapa township
12. Muslim school at Tharkaeta township
1. Inside of mosque and Muslim school destroyed
Gaw Bay:  		
1. Mosque destroyed
Naw Bu:  		
1. Mosque destroyed

Day Nga Yin:  	
1. Mosque destroyed

Kyaung Don: 	
1. Mosque destroyed

1. Mosque & Muslim school destroyed

Pa Glaw Ni:  	
1. Mosque valuables looted, placed in Buddhist temple, then wooden mosque



Events in Mandalay sparked the nation-wide unrest that occurred in March.
The SLORC and many of the press reports have portrayed the March riots as
simply the result of communal conflict over a sexual harassment case
involving a Buddhist woman and a Muslim man.  The unmarried woman was not
raped, but publicly humiliated by unwelcome attention from the man, who
tried to take her hand against her will.  The case had been settled to the
satisfaction of all the parties concerned before the riots occurred. After
negotiation with local Ya Wa Ta (LORC) authorities, the Muslim family agreed
to give the Buddhist family 30,000 kyat as a settlement.  Nonetheless, the
incident was used to inflame anger against Muslims during the March
disturbances.  Reports from Buddhist clergy and local people at the time of
the riots, however, state that Buddhist-Muslim conflicts were only used to
deflect attention from the real sources of crisis:  long-simmering conflict
between the SLORC and the Mandalay Sangha (monks).
 Monks in Mandalay began organising to protest over a period of months,
following increasing pressure on the Sangha from the SLORC.  The following
is a chronology of some key events:
* In April 1996, the SLORC issued Order 85 to restrict the movements of the
Sangha.  The order restricted members of political parties and their
families from being ordained.  Many young monks felt the order was unfair.
* During April and May five monks demonstrated, and three were subsequently
* September 1996 Lt. Gen. Myo Nyunt, Minister of Religion, sent a letter to
the senior monks' council demanding that all those who wished to be ordained
must receive approval from the SLORC.
* On 6 December 1996 (simultaneous with the student demonstrations in
Rangoon and Mandalay) the monks in Mandalay formed the "Thangha Thamagi",
which translates very roughly as "Sangha Group".
* On 5 February 1997 five monks traveling from Mandalay to Moulmein to
organise demonstrations were arrested at Thaton.
* Many monks and lay-people were angered when it was learned from those
recently released from prison in Mandalay that a total of 16 monks had died
under various circumstances during their imprisonment.  (See appendix for a
list of names).
* On 22 February 1997, representatives of the SLORC met with senior monks in
Mandalay to discuss rumours that young monks were planning demonstrations or
protests against the SLORC leadership.  The senior monks were asked to
control the younger monks and make sure that no disturbances occurred.
Following this, a number of monks who had been planning local demonstrations
were arrested.
* In March, dissatisfaction in the Sangha became focused on three issues:
1. The Mandalay monks accused the SLORC of trying to find sacred rubies
believed to give the bearer the power to defeat any enemy.  The rubies were
said to be hidden in one of six monasteries, among them Maha Myatmuni
(Payagyi), possibly inside the Maha Myatmuni Buddha statue itself.  As the
exact location of the rubies was unknown, all of these monasteries were
broken into by the SLORC.  (This was well-known, as the military guards the
monasteries.)  An inquest into this situation was ordered, and the Maha
Myatmuni Sayadaw (abbot) , U Pyin Ya Wan Tha, was requested to answer
questions from monks.  
2. Another reason for the monks' dissatisfaction with the SLORC may be found
in a rumour circulating in Mandalay.  When H.M. Suharto, the President of
Indonesia, visited Myanmar recently, he proposed to build a grand mosque in
Myanmar, patterned on a famous Indonesian mosque, as a gift for Burma's
accession to ASEAN.  It was rumoured that the SLORC had granted land held by
the Sangha in Mandalay as the site for the mosque's construction.  The
prospect of this seizure of Sangha lands further provoked the monks.
3. Mandalay monks also demanded a list of the names of all those monks
detained as well as their unconditional release.  Demonstrations were
planned for 13 or 14 March to protest the deaths of monks in custody, but
SLORC authorities learned of the plans and arrested monks and local leaders.
Demonstrations commenced later than planned, reportedly the evening of 15 or
16 March.
* On 16 March, 8,000 - 10,000 monks assembled to discuss the Maha Myatmuni
Sayadaw's  explanation of who was responsible for the break-ins at the six
monasteries.  At the end of the speech, some monks were not satisfied with
the explanation.  Soldiers attending the gathering surrounded the monks to
contain them, and it is believed some monks were killed and injured.
* After this date, the Sayadaw of Maha Myatmuni pagoda disappeared.  It was
later learned that the Sayadaw was put in protective custody by the SLORC,
as he was on the SLORC      "Pagoda Committee" and was custodian of the keys
of the six pagodas that were robbed. The abbot was hidden by SLORC, after he
admitted to having given the pagoda keys to SLORC officials at the monks'
meeting on 16 March, authorities apparently fearing further questions from
the clergy.  He was released during the Burmese New Year (Water Festival).
* In the late afternoon or evening of 16 March, persons said to be military
intelligence personnel dressed as monks led the monks to a nearby mosque.
They brought up the sexual harassment case involving the Muslim man,
angering monks who had not heard of the case, and started throwing bricks at
the mosque.  Some monks joined the military intelligence in the attack,
while others refused to participate and left.  The monks then moved on to
other monasteries and attacked them, while military personnel reportedly
stood by and even offered the monks bricks in some cases.  No local people
were reported to have joined in the first attacks, according to inside
sources, because it was obvious that the SLORC authorities had instigated
them.  Later some monks were said to be wearing army shorts under their robes.
 "On 16 March 1997 beginning at about 3:30 p.m. a mob of about 1,000/1,500
Buddhist monks and others shouted anti-Muslim slogans without an provocation
of any kind on the part of the Muslims.  They targeted the mosques first for
attack, followed by Muslim shop-houses and transportation vehicles in the
vicinity of mosques, damaging, destroying, looting, and trampling, burning
the religious books, committing acts of sacrilege.  The area where the acts
of damage, destruction, and lootings committed in the part of Mandalay is
known as Kaingdan.
 "The manner and methodical execution of the assault, attack, destruction,
and hauling away of the loot prove beyond doubt that the whole mission was
pre-planned with the full knowledge of the authorities concerned, if not
their sanction or approval.  It can be justifiably assumed that the persons
of lower rank had some kind of understanding with the culprits.  In spite of
several requests from the victims of the attacks, authorities responsible
for providing security and maintaining law and order looked on with folded
arms and allowed the rampage to continue for 6 hours, by which time four
mosques and 90 - 100 houses and shops of Muslims had been destroyed and
			- Witness to the riots in Mandalay
* On the 17 and 18 March, because of the reluctance on the part of the SLORC
authorities to contain the situation, the acts of destruction and looting
continued.  By the 18 March, 14 mosques and approximately 400 Muslim houses
and shops had been looted and destroyed, and in the evening, an 8 pm to 4 am
curfew was imposed in Mandalay.  By this time, unrest had spread to Rangoon
and other cities.
* Local authorities claimed that they did not take immediate action, as they
were trying to ascertain the true identities of the demonstrators and the
culprits responsible for the attacks on Muslim property.  Eventually shots
were fired into the air, and at least three monks were killed during the
course of the riots by ricocheted bullets.  In Mandalay, 100 monks were
arrested and detained.
 "...The government has a responsibility to protect the lives and properties
of all the citizens of the country.  Law enforcement authorities can never
be justified in looking on with folded arms and unconcern while crimes are
being committed... (W)hen the students of the Yangon Institute of Technology
started an agitation of protest, within two hours of the incident the
authorities contained it by rolling in the city tanks, armoured cars and
weapon carriers mounted with machine guns, Bren guns, etc. as a show of
strength and resolve to suppress attempts to disturb the prevailing peace in
the country, (so) why now silently (do they watch) with folded arms when the
religious edifices of a minority community (are destroyed)?"  
			- Witness to riots in Mandalay

In 1988, anti-Muslim riots also broke out in Prome, allegedly instigated by
the government.  According to Burma-specialist Bertil Lintner:

"The official account said that the violence began when some allegedly drunk
Muslim youth insulted a young Buddhist girl outside the Let Yway Cafe in the
town's market area, and it all escalated into virtual street battles.
Muslim houses and shops were attacked and burnt down.  A foreign diplomat in
Rangoon described a slightly different scenario in his dispatch back to his
government at the time:  'Other reports, however, insinuate that the
disturbances may have enlarged into anti-authority displays with their
communal component being of less importance.  It is evident from the press
reports that the police and security forces in Prome were unable to control
the crowds." 

"Already after the March demonstrations in Rangoon, some people in Prome had
begun organising anti-government groups.  The DDSI (Directorate of the
Defense Services Intelligence), apparently, had got wind of it, and this,
Prome residents say, was why their town was targeted for orchestrated
communal clashes."  (Bertil Lintner, Outrage, p. 82)

According to Muslim sources in Prome, who have asked to remain anonymous,
during the night of 24 March 1997, three mosques in the town of Prome, Pegu
division, were attacked by hundreds of monks.  During attacks on the Surati
mosque, the Kharkahr mosque, and the Shwekyarbin mosque, a total of
approximately 1,000 soldiers stood near the mosques and simply watched idly.
On the 24th and 25th, three other mosques in the town of Pegu were also
attacked.  After the first attacks in Prome, military authorities imposed a
curfew.  According to these sources, Prome has seven mosques for its
approximately 1,000 Muslim inhabitants.  Most of the population is Buddhist,

Sources also stated that SLORC soldiers entered the Muslim houses, saying
they wanted to save Muslim areas.  The Muslims do not trust the army, and
asked the soldiers to guard the mosques instead, telling them, "that is
where (the looting) is happening."   However, the soldiers did not protect
the mosques, which were guarded instead by the Muslims themselves, many
sleeping inside the mosques to keep them from being damaged.

Sources in Prome also said that some of those involved in the attacks were
put in jail, but all were released after one or two days.  According to
them, Muslims in Prome think that the government is behind the riots.  "It
is the government who did it, they try to change the people's minds, to get
their attention away from the anti-government demonstrations."

They further stated that many Muslim families left to stay with relatives in
Rangoon, as during the rioting, "Nobody (could) go out, everyone has to stay

n their houses."  Most of the Muslims in Prome are not rich, and they have
no weapons.


In October 1996, anti-Muslim leaflets were distributed in Rangoon, urging
Buddhists to boycott Muslim stores and not to marry Muslims.  The leaflets
accuse Muslims of wanting to expand their territory, predicting that once
the State of Islam has taken control of the Burmese nation, Burma will
become like other Southeast Asian countries, where Buddhism once flourished
but has been forsaken for Islam.  Similar leaflets were repeatedly
distributed in 1996 in Mandalay and Kalaw.  

>From the 15 to 28 March, damage to mosques and demonstrations by monks in
Rangoon were reported.  During the attacks on the mosques, those in the
surrounding Muslim communities lived in terror.  According to numerous
reports, many were too afraid to leave their homes, in some cases even to go
to work.  Again, sources in Rangoon claim that the authorities did nothing
to stop the destruction, standing aside and watching the looting as it
occurred. The following information concerning events in Rangoon comes from
Muslim sources in Rangoon requesting anonymity.

* At 4 p.m. on 22nd March 1997, about 40 monks came out of the Kaba Aye
pagoda compound, which is under the very tight control of the SLORC army,
and where the Sangha Mahanayaka (SLORC-controlled Nationwide Buddhist Monks
Committee) is based.  They forcibly stopped two "Dyna" Japanese-made pick-up
buses from the No. 49 Bus Line and asked the passengers to get out, then
took the buses.  About 30 minutes later, a group of men in regular civilian
clothes, but with shaved heads like monks, came out of the same compound and
left in two Dyna cars.
* At around 8 p.m., army officers and soldiers from the Office of Tactical
Command came to the Kanbe Mosque in Yankin township.  They told the Muslim
people taking care of the mosque that they (the soldiers) would provide
security, and that the Muslims should return home.  The Muslim leaders
believed these words, and the people locked the mosque and returned to their
homes.   During the night, the mosque was attacked by the Buddhist monks.
The troops arrived at the mosque just after the attack finished. 
* One of the monks participating in the attack did not put his robes on
properly, and they later became loose and fell down.  Onlookers nearby
noticed he was wearing the army-issue underpants which are usually worn by
soldiers.  The group leader of the monks was seen holding some kind of
mobile communication equipment.
* On the same day, local authorities of the Army Tactical Command came to
the BMO mosque in Thingangyun township and met with Muslim leaders. At the
meeting, the officials said that they would ensure the security of the
mosque and urged the Muslims to return home.  They also said that if
Buddhist monks arrived at the mosque, Muslims should appeal to them to not
cause trouble.  The authorities further stated that that if the monks could
not be persuaded to leave, they should be allowed to attack the mosque until
they were satisfied that they had inflicted enough damage, and SLORC would
take responsibility for reparations.   Members of the Muslim community
attending this meeting refused to accept with the authorities' recommendations. 
* Also the same day, Lt. Gen. Myo Nyunt, Minister for Religious Affairs,
held a meeting with the leaders of six Muslim organisations.  He accused the
NLD of being behind the attacks and said that the aim of NLD destructionists
was to prevent the ASEAN countries from granting Burma membership.
* On 23 March 1997, monks attacked the Bangarlisu mosque on Thein Phyu road,
hurling stones at it.  Observers reported that some had pistols and guns
beneath their robes. 
* Also on 23 March, around 50 monks were spotted roaming around Rangoon.
Some held walkie-talkies and what appeared to be mobile phones. 
* On the same day, authorities of the Tactical Command came to the Mosque at
135th street in Rangoon and told the Muslim people that nobody was allowed
to sleep overnight at the mosque as the soldiers were taking responsibility
for its security.  Muslim leaders replied that previously the security
personnel, including the soldiers, usually arrived only after attacks, so
they could not accept that arrangement.  The army officer replied that these
attacks were planned and executed by the NLD.

* In other mosques also, the army officials came and asked the Muslims not
to stay overnight, but in each case the army officials' requests were denied. 
* By March 24, 1997 in Rangoon, mosques in the following areas had already
been attacked:

1. Kanbe
2. No. 7 Quarter in South Okkalapa township 
3. Wartan street
4. Ayethakar quarters at Ahlone township 
5. At Mayangone junction
6. Near Pazundaung Post Office
7. At 48th street

* Muslim sources in Rangoon state that up to this point, neither monks
identified as belonging to specific monasteries nor civilians had
participated in these attacks.  Almost all of the attacks occurred only
after 10:00 at night, usually between 10:00 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. rather than
during the day.
* Such well-known monasteries in Rangoon as Thayattaw, Nyaungdon, Theinphyu,
and Moegaung were surrounded by troops, and monks were prohibited from
leaving the monastery grounds for any reason.  The abbots at these
monasteries summoned their monks and told them not to join in these events,
saying that if they did join they should leave the monasteries forever.
Senior monks from monasteries, including those from Thayattaw, claimed that
no monks from their monasteries joined in the riots, and that their monks
were ready to help the Muslims in guarding the mosques. They also expressed
their desire to see that monks caught participating in the acts of
destruction were properly tried.  A senior monk at Myenigone monastery in
Rangoon told the people that no real monks were participating in these
attacks, and that he was ashamed about the situation.
* On the 24th and 25th, the mosque near the Pazundaung Post Office was
attacked for the second time.
* On 25 March in Rangoon, between 10 and 15 policemen were stationed at
every mosque. 
* Muslims also guarded their mosques. Military trucks roamed the streets.
The Muslim religious school at 48th street and the religious school at
Tharkaeta township in Rangoon  were attacked.
* In the morning, 3 food shops owned by Muslims at Mahlwagon in Rangoon were
* On 26 March 1997 in Thuwana township in Rangoon, anti-Muslim pamphlets
urging people to destroy Muslim homes and abuse Muslim women were
distributed by an identified group of people. 
* At some mosques, Buddhists joined in guarding the mosque along with Muslim

"After several days of attacks, a common strategy employed in the attacks
emerged:  At night, monks riding in garbage collection cars from the City
Municipal Department or trucks used to carry sand or stones to construction
sites approached the mosques.  They then waited for a convenient place and
time for attack.  If everything was in order, they would complete their
attack on the mosque within 20 minutes.  After exactly 20 minutes, they
abruptly halted the attack and left by truck.  Immediately after their
departure, the army trucks arrived. 

"So, the conclusion of the Muslim people is that these monks are not
ordinary monks, but well trained persons wearing robes.  The monks arrested
by SLORC were the real monks working hard for Buddhism and for the goodness
of Burma.   No persons wearing Buddhist robes who joined in these
anti-Muslim attacks were arrested by SLORC up until this date. It was clear
that no monks from the famous monasteries in Rangoon such as Thayattaw,
Nyaungdone or any Buddhist people participated in these attacks."
			- Muslim witness to attacks in Rangoon

* On March 28, 1997 at about 2:00 in the afternoon, monks from Kyaukhtatgyi
Pagoda in Rangoon marched in the streets, shouting demands calling for the
release of arrested monks.   They were stopped immediately by army troops
using armoured cars.  It is believed that as many as 200 monks may have been
arrested by the authorities.

Other Areas:

Mosques in other areas including Moulmein, Arakan State, Taungdwingyi in
Magwe Division, and Pakkoku in Pegu Division, are also reported to have been
attacked, however no further information is available at this time.

Duplaya District, Karen State:

Muslims began moving into Karen State at the time of Great Britain's
annexation of Upper Burma in the 1880s.  The Muslim population in Karen
State numbers in the thousands, with Muslims engaging in a range of
professions from farming to shop-keeping.  Many Muslims in Karen State refer
to themselves in Karen as "Pwakanyaw Thu" or "Black Karen" and consider
Karen State as their homeland.  Although the Muslims tend to live in
separate areas within Karen villages, relations between Muslims and
Buddhists and Christians have generally been good.

In Karen State, the SLORC has also tried to stir up anti-Muslim feelings.
In August 1996, a letter came from Dammaya town to some people in Kyaikdon,
Karen State encouraging fighting between Muslims and Buddhists.  According
to one informant who saw the letter, it was written in good Burmese and was
unsigned.  The villagers believed that SLORC officials had written it and
that the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA), which has been working
closely with the SLORC, had been distributing copies.

In the February 1997 SLORC offensive against the Karen National Union (KNU),
the SLORC attacked the Muslim community directly.   SLORC soldiers razed
mosques and destroyed copies of the Koran, ordered conversions to Buddhism,
and drove Muslims out of Karen State.  

Following is a partial list of villages where mosques were destroyed.  Each
mosque has a special coffin for carrying the dead.  These were destroyed in
all of the named villages, and in most cases the mosque's copies of the
Koran was also either burned or shredded.  


  Kyaikdon: The inside of the mosque and the Muslim school 		destroyed,
Muslims expelled unless they became Buddhist
  Gaw Bay: Mosque destroyed 
  Naw Bu: Mosque destroyed and all the villagers were expelled
  Day Nga Yin: Mosque destroyed
  Kyaung Don: Mosque destroyed, villagers allowed to stay
  Kaninbu:  Mosque and the Muslim school destroyed
  Pa Glaw Ni:  All valuables inside the mosque looted and placed in the
village's Buddhist temple  The wooden mosque was then 		dismantled

SLORC soldiers made it known that they were targeting Muslims and threatened
to kill any Muslims that they saw.  There have also been confirmed reports
of SLORC troops killing Muslims.  In Kyo Ta village, SLORC soldiers
blindfolded 2 male Muslim villagers and cut their necks.  In Ti Dah Blu
village, 2 Muslim villagers were also killed.

Muslims from Karen State face a precarious future. Up to ten thousand people
from Duplaya district have left Karen State in order to escape the human
rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese military. An anti-Muslim campaign
has forced thousands of the Muslim population from Duplaya District into
Thailand.  In this area, they have been told that they cannot become
citizens of Burma unless they profess Buddhism as their religion.  Many have
been ordered to leave Karen State and to return to India, although they have
no connections to that country today.

For these people, leaving their homes was the last resort.  None wanted to
leave their homes for refugee camps in Thailand.  They fled because of
ill-treatment and fear of further abuse.  They also fled to protect their
families.  The pain and upheaval that these Muslim people have experienced
should not be underestimated.

The following are excerpts from interviews with Muslim refugees from Karen

AGE:			33

After hearing that the SLORC troops were approaching Kyaikdon, Nusa and
several other families fled.  He explained:

Destruction of the mosque
When we arrived at Kyaikdon we tied up the bullocks and went to the well in
the mosque compound to get water.  The soldiers at the entrance warned us
that we could not enter the mosque itself, and that we should get the water
as quickly as possible.  In the meantime, a SLORC column entered the
village.  When they saw us, they hurled rude abuse at us like: 'You sons of
bitches!' and so on.

I was getting water at the well in front of the mosque when some soldiers
brought out the Koran and I saw them ripping it up.  The soldiers said:
'Don't watch!  Just get your water,' pointing their gun at me. I wanted to
cry but I couldn't.  

They threw the pieces of Koran on the street.  When the Muslim women on the
street saw this, they cried and felt such pain.  The SLORC soldiers said,
'Don't cry! This is not a Muslim country! This is a Buddhist country! Go away!'

Expulsion from the village
An officer from the 202 TOC (Tactical Operation Command), 22nd LID (Light
Infantry Division) told me: 'Muslims cannot stay.  If you are Muslim you
must leave.'  Another one said:  'Muslims cannot stay here, you must convert
to Buddhism and put an altar in your house.'

The soldiers then ordered us to move our bullock carts out of the village
within half an hour.  When we started to move from that place, the soldiers
came out and threatened us with guns.  They ordered us not to pick up any of
our belongings that 'had dropped' from our bullock carts.  After that, we
made our way back to Nam Ngen village and then went to Ywa Thit village to
meet the commander of the SLORC troops.  At Ywa Thit, the major told us were
not allowed to stay in the village and would have to stay somewhere outside
the village.  Therefore we moved, with over twenty bullock carts, to the
banks of a nearby stream. 

The next day the solders arrived and asked how many bullock carts we had
with us.  They then ordered the whole group of villagers to go with them,
including the girls and 27 bullock carts.  They also said that we would have
to eat 'the meat that we cannot eat' (pork).  We understood clearly what
they meant, and after discussing it with the village elders, we decided to
collect 150 kyats for each of the 27 bullock carts and gave the money to the
soldiers.  After that the soldiers bought pork and took it to the place
where they were staying.  We slept at the side of the stream for two nights.

I came to the refugee camp with part of my family.  On the way we heard that
the Islamic teacher of Kyaikdon had been arrested there by the SLORC.  The
Muslim villagers had to pay 2000 kyat to the officer there to secure his

Forced to eat pork
Since I arrived here, I heard that in Azin Kyaung Paya village, the SLORC
troops forced some Muslims to eat pork [this practice is contrary to the
precepts of the Islam].

We have suffered so much grief at the hands of the military that I feel that
if we could get some guns now, all of the people suffering here would fight
back against this brutal regime. This feeling is felt deep in the hearts of
our Muslim community here.  We can never forgive the SLORC soldiers who
destroyed our mosque and our Koran, which is the holy center of our community.

AGE:			36

Destruction of the mosque at Kyaikdon
My wife and some of the other villagers returned to the village from the
place where we were hiding in the jungle.  They cried with grief when they
saw the ruins of our mosque.  They met the SLORC soldiers near that mosque,
and the SLORC soldiers said to them, 'This is not India!  Within two days
two bulldozers will arrive at this village to raze the mosque!'  They
noticed that the doors on the left side of the mosque were burned down and
the marble floors made up of ceramic tiles had been pounded and destroyed by
the SLORC troops.  The Koran had been torn into pieces and was scattered on
the public footpath in front of the mosque.  The women in the group cried
when they saw this.  At that time, the soldiers told the people: 'This is
not India! All of you Muslims must leave the mosque compound within half an

>From our hiding place, we had already seen our village through a pair of
binoculars.  We saw that the roof of the mosque had already been destroyed,
and also that all the roof framework had been completely destroyed by fire.

The SLORC troops have now destroyed the mosque at Kyaikdon village twice.
Once was in 1990 and the other time was this year.  This time we tried to
hide the Koran in a safe place in the mosque, however the soldiers found the
Koran and tore it to pieces and scattered it across the road.  The soldiers
then killed the pigs and cooked and ate pork curry in the mosque compound [a
grave insult to Muslims].

The destruction of the mosque and the holy Koran hurts like a spear piercing
my heart.  Even if the SLORC were to kill me along with my family, it would
not hurt as much as this.  This feeling is deep in our hearts and we will
never forget this incident.

[Another recent arrival told Wanasoo that no villagers are staying in the
Muslim quarter of Kyaikdon anymore.  The SLORC tried to destroy the mosque
in a series of five explosions.  This did not completely destroy the mosque
- which is made of concrete - but crackeed the ceiling and walls]

Fleeing and threats of execution
According to the Karen elders who had also witnessed the destruction of the
mosque, the SLORC troops were making many problems for the Muslim community,
and it would be wise for us to leave the village for that reason.

We sent one man back to our village from our hiding place to collect news
about the movements of, and conditions under, the SLORC troops.  He was a
former KNLA soldier and had been given a traveling document by a SLORC major
from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 205.  He went back to the village and
returned to our hiding place in the evening.  He told us that the SLORC
troops had said that they would kill all Muslims.  He warned us to stay in a
large group, and that we should not travel separately.  He advised us to run
to Kawkareik.

Threats of rape and execution
Two porters who escaped and arrived at Nopho told us that the SLORC soldiers
said to each other that if they had a chance to meet Muslim women, they
would rape them and then kill them.

AGE:  			36 

Threat of execution
When I heard the SLORC was coming, I had to run with my cows and hide.  I
asked a Karen Buddhist friend to go to the SLORC troops and ask them what
the policy is for Muslims.  My friend came back and told me that it is bad
news for Muslims, if the SLORC troops see any Muslims they said they will
kill them.  

Threat of theft
I got information that all the cows were being taken by the SLORC and the
SLORC troops were taking all the things that belonged to Muslims. So I gave
my cows to my friend to look after. 

AGE			33

Threat of execution
The SLORC told the villagers [from Kyaikdon] that if they saw any Muslims to
come and tell them.  The SLORC came and asked us, Where are the Muslims?  If
we catch them we will barbecue them and eat them.

Rumour of execution
I heard that they had killed two of them [Muslims].  Then they came back and
told the villagers to go and bury the bodies.  The villagers picked up their
tools to go and bury the bodies.  When they arrived they could not find the
dead bodies.  They searched and searched but there was no trace of them.  I
don't know whether they were lying or telling the truth.

Destruction of the mosque
There was a mosque in the village, but the SLORC troops dismantled it. It
was wood, and the troops told the villagers to take it, but the villagers
refused. So they [the SLORC soldiers] sold the wood. The SLORC troops also
burned the Koran and destroyed the Muslim coffin.

AGE:			54 

There was fighting in Kyaikdon on February 13th for one hour. The Muslim
troops and the SLORC troops shot each other, then the Muslims retreated into
the mountains.

Destruction of the mosque
The SLORC soldiers used four explosives [probably mortar shells] to destroy
the mosque in Kyaikdon.  I could see from a hill that it was destroyed, and
the others who were there later came out and reported the details to me.

The SLORC took everything left in the village. They said all of it belonged
to Muslims, so they took it.

Excerpts of Statements from Burmese Opposition Groups

Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB)

Previously known as the Arakan Liberation Organisation, established in 1980,
the MLOB adopted its current name in 1987.  The MLOB states that
anti-government demonstrations began in Mandalay on 17 March, after monks
demanded a list of monks currently under detention from the SLORC
authorities.  According to the MLOB, "The SLORC is afraid that this kind of
demonstration could lead to political unrest, and may even threaten their
very power base.  They therefore immediately circulated a story that the
Mandalay monks' demonstrations were triggered by Buddhist-Muslim tension
following an alleged rape case."  (MLOB statement, 20 March 1997)

All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU)

The ABMU statement warns people not to jump to conclusions about the unrest.
"A rumour was also released that a Burmese girl was insulted by a Muslim
youth, was  angered by a group of monks lead by the girl's uncle, who is
also a monk and against the Muslims.  But everyone must study the situation
carefully what actually happened." (sic)  The ABMU also noted that the
Burmese army have destroyed mosques and confiscated religious and secular
properties of Muslim in their recent offensive against the KNU.  Muslims
living in Karen State were particularly mistreated by the Burmese army.  The
ABMU claims that already in December 1996, SLORC ordered Muslim villagers to
move from Nabu village, Kawkareik township, Karen State, within one month.
"...they don't want to see the families and any face of Kala (obscene word
for Muslims) any more after the month." (sic) The ABMU further states that
approximately 2,000 Muslims have sought sanctuary in Thailand since the
offensive began.  "Muslim
s were denied to resettle and at the gun point they were chased out of the
area."  (ABMU statements, 4 and 20 March 1997)

Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO)

According to the RSO, a Muslim organisation established in 1982 in Arakan
State, "It is common practice of successive ruling juntas to create an issue
and make the Muslim scapegoat whenever it faces strong dissension from the
masses, and it did try to do the same in October, 1996 by distributing
leaflets that could lead to communal riots in Burma."  The RSO claims that
SLORC instigated the recent anti-Muslim riots.  "Although the conflicting
reports are still coming in from different quarters as to the cause of the
rioting, all indications have almost confirmed that the junta master-minded
the communal commotion to divert the growing exasperation among the Buddhist
monks in Mandalay following the killing of 16 monks and the Mahamyatmuni
Buddha crisis by the SLORC."
(RSO statement, 25 March 1997)

All Burma Young Monks' Union (ABYMU)

The ABYMU claims that the SLORC instigated the anti-Muslim unrest in order
to "deflect possible criticism and disavow any role in the matter by saying
that the demonstration broke out when monks became angry over the alleged
rape of Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.  This same kind of dissimulation was
employed by the SLORC authorities in Taunggyi and Prome in 1988, when the
people rose up in protest to demand their democratic rights."  (ABYMU
statements, 18 and 19 March 1997)

National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB)

According to the NCUB, "the current political crisis within the country
involving SLORC and the religious communities is being used to divert the
increasing public anger towards the military regime against real issues."
The NCUB also believes that there is a power struggle between Lt. Gen. Khin
Nyunt (SLORC Secretary 1 and head of Military Intelligence) and General
Maung Aye (Army Chief of Staff).  The statement quotes one student leader as
saying, "This could be a plan from a faction within the SLORC army to
instigate further unrest so that the army will be called in to stop the
situation from deteriorating further....  In order to control the
possibility of a mass movement against them, the SLORC is diverting the
people's attention away from the real issues and creating division within
our communities."  (NCUB statement, 24 March 1997)

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

In a video-taped address to the 53rd session of the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights, which was smuggled out of Burma, the leader of
the National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu
Kyi stated that she understood the unrest in Mandalay began "because of the
fact that there was some damage done to this very, very famous and very,
very revered image of the Buddha, the Maha Myatmuni image.  And the monks
were angry about this, and they thought that the authorities were in some
way responsible for the -- I think it was a crack -- which had appeared in
the image."  While acknowledging there are certain places in Burma where
tension does exist between Muslims and Buddhists, she pointed to the
underlying cause of religious tension.  "The real source, the real reason
behind this, is I think social unrest.  When there is communal strife
anywhere it is due to social economic problems.  Social unrest of course is
related to such factors as political dissatisfaction and economic problems.
So we cannot just tolerate the problems between the Buddhist monks and the
Muslims, and say, well there is trouble -- there is trouble throughout the
country.  It is just a symptom of the general malaise that you will find in
Burma today."

List of Pertinent Questions that ASEAN countries should ask SLORC regarding
the recent anti-Muslim disturbances (taken from "Second Letter  to the
Supreme Authorities of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, concerning the
current situation for Muslims in Burma,"  MLOB, 28 April 1997)

1. Why didn't the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) protect
mosques, houses and other Muslim property all over Burma from destruction
during March and April 1997?
2. Who will provide protection for Burmese Muslims in the future, in case of
anti-Muslim riots after the SLORC becomes a member of ASEAN?
3. Why did the SLORC army dynamite mosques, rip up and destroy copies of the
Holy Quoran, and order Muslims to eat pork and convert to Buddhism in Karen
State in February and March 1997?
4. Why didn't Muslims celebrate Idd Al Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice), one of
the Five Pillars of Islam, in Burma on 18 April 1997?
5. For what reason have Rohingyas repeatedly fled as refugees (in 1978,
200,000, and in 1991, 300,000) into Bangladesh?

Conclusions and Recommendations to the ASEAN Nations and the International

We urge governments, organizations, and concerned individuals to:
* Request clarification and a full disclosure of information about the
attacks on Muslim communities, properties, and religious sites in Burma in
* Encourage the SLORC to treat all citizens equally regardless of ethnicity
or religion.  In particular, the ASEAN Muslim nations - Indonesia, Malaysia
and Brunei - should intercede on behalf of the Burmese Muslims and demand
significant improvements in the human rights conditions in the country.
* Urge the SLORC to enhance regional stability by entering into genuine
tri-partite dialogue with the country's democratic opposition and ethnic
leaders, so that the people of Burma can finally enjoy the peace and
stability for which they have been longing for so many years; and resolve
internal political conflict through political means.
* Recognize that, given the SLORC's inability to respond to internal
security crises, ASEAN and all foreign investment inside Burma is at risk.
* Urge the SLORC to refrain from committing human rights abuses such as
rape, extra-judicial execution, torture, etc., and to treat people in
accordance with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, and other
United Nations human rights  conventions.
* Note that the SLORC and the ethnic nationality parties need to seek
durable solutions to the underlying political problems in Burma.  It is only
when stability is realized throughout Burma that refugees, including the
Muslim people who have been forced out of Burma, can return home and will
feel genuinely secure.  Through dialogue and compromise, Burma be made a
peaceful country where civilians can live without the fear of unlawful
attacks, torture, and persecution.  With Burma's recent entrance to ASEAN,
ASEAN countries are uniquely positioned and culturally suited to mediate
such negotiations.

The list below gives the following particulars in order specified:
Place of Birth
Place of Death (Labour Camp/Jail)

Ashin Pyin Nya Nanda
Maha Nandi The Na, Payagyi (Maha Myatmuni)
Dadar Oo Township, Mandalay
Myitkyina Hard Labour Camp, Kachin

Ashin Zawana
Maha Nandi The Na, Payagyi (Maha Myatmuni)
Dadar Oo Township, Mandalay
Myitkyina Hard Labour Camp, Kachin

U Seindawara
Aleitaigyi, Payagyi  (Middle Monastery, Maha Myatmuni)
Taunggyi, Shan State
Phar Kant Camp, Mokoung, Kachin State

U Teza
Saku Monastery
Lei We, Pyimana
Mokoung Jail, Kachin State

Ashin Teza
Na Toe Gyi Township, Myingyan
Shot 8-8-90, place of death unknown 

U Ar Tha Pa
Payagyi (Maha Myatmuni)
Pa Le, Monywa
Mandalay Jail

U Pyin Nyaing Da
Payagyi (Maha Myatmuni)
Matayar, Mandalay
Mandalay Jail

U Tiloka
Masoyein Monastery
Taung Tha village, Myingyan
Par Kant Camp, Mokoung, Kachin State

U Zawana
Taung Tha village, Myingyan
Myitkyina Jail, Kachin State

Ashin Teza
Pagan Monastery
Kant Balu, Sagaing
Myitkyina Jail, Kachin State

Ashin Rewata
Pagan Monastery
Laung Su village, Kyauk Se
Myitkyina Jail, Kachin State

Ashin Kaw Wida
Pagan Monastery
Put Taing village, Kyauk Se
Myitkyina Jail, Kachin State

U Pyinya Thiri
Myadaung Monastery
Kyet Pyin village, Mogok, Shan State
Katha Jail, Mokoung, Kachin State

U Zaw Tika
Anauk Htilin
Hanhai village, Mahlaing Township, Myingyan
Katha Jail, Mokoung, Kachin State

U Dhamma Wara Thiri
Par Kant, Mokoung, Kachin State

Sayadaw U Tiloka (Abbot)
Shwephonepwint Monastery, Rangoon
Insein Jail, Rangoon



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