Myanmar’s government is struggling to contain anti-Muslim violence that touched the outskirts of the capital, Naypyitaw, at the weekend and forced it to send troops to patrol the streets in the town where the recent trouble started.
Four houses and a small mosque in Tatkon township on the northern edges of Naypyitaw were set ablaze late on Sunday, a civil servant in the capital told Reuters on Monday.
Communal tension, stifled under half a century of army rule, has resurfaced since President Thein Sein’s reformist government took office in 2011.
It has released dissidents and relaxed media censorship, but was also criticized for failing to quell last year’s violence in Rakhine State in western Myanmar. Official figures say 110 people were killed and 120,000 were left homeless, most of them Rohingya Muslims.
…Violence here in Rakhine State — where clashes have left at least 167 people dead and 100,000 people homeless, most of them Muslims — has set off an exodus that some human rights groups condemn as ethnic cleansing. It is a measure of the deep intolerance that pervades the state, a strip of land along the Bay of Bengal in western Myanmar, that Buddhist religious leaders like Mr. Nyarna, who is the head of an association of young monks, are participating in the campaign to oust Muslims from the country, which only recently began a transition to democracy from authoritarian rule.
After a series of deadly rampages and arson attacks over the past five months, Buddhists are calling for Muslims who cannot prove three generations of legal residence — a large part of the nearly one million Muslims from the state — to be put into camps and sent to any country willing to take them. Hatred between Muslims and Buddhists that was kept in check during five decades of military rule has been virtually unrestrained in recent months.
Even the country’s leading liberal voice and defender of the downtrodden, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been circumspect in her comments about the violence. President Obama made the issue a priority during his visit to the country this month — the first by a sitting American president — and Muslim nations as diverse as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have expressed alarm.