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Myanmar police arrest two extremists over anti-Muslim violence
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A man walks among the debris of buildings destroyed by anti-Muslim mobs in Myanmar. (file photo)
A man walks among the debris of buildings destroyed by anti-Muslim mobs in Myanmar. (file photo)
Myanmar police say they have arrested two Buddhist extremists in connection with an attack in which Muslim shops and houses were destroyed in the northern state of Kachin.
 
It was the first attack on Muslims in the state of Kachin. 
 
"We arrested two people at the scene… and are still interrogating them. We will charge them if there is enough evidence," a police official in the Christian majority state of Kachin said on Saturday. 
 
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. 
 
On Thursday night, about 30 people arrived and threw stones at our shops and houses, said Moe Moe Lwin, 46, a Muslim woman from a village in Kachin. 
 
"We couldn't do anything except watch while they destroyed our shop… we will leave for a while. We have no idea how we should move forward," she added. 
 
A Buddhist villager confirmed that Muslim shops and houses were destroyed in three places in the area. "We do not want to see this sort of violence. We denounce their act," Tin Soe stated. 
 
On Tuesday, mobs of Buddhist extremists attacked at least two mosques and set hundreds of Muslims’ houses on fire, killing one person and injuring at least 10 others, in a city near Myanmar’s former capital. 
 
The assaults took place in Okkan, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Yangon. 
 
Muslim families escaped and hid in forests as their homes burned. 
 
According to some of the residents, as many as 400 Buddhist extremists armed with bricks and sticks attacked Okkan, targeting Muslim shops and ransacking two mosques. 
 
Twenty riot police were later dispatched to guard one of the mosques. 
 
Three outlying villages were hit the worst in the attacks, with at least 60 houses torched in each village. 
 
The violence that originally targeted Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar is beginning to spread to other parts of the country, where Muslims who have been granted citizenship are now being attacked, according to the website burmamuslims.org. 
 
About 800,000 Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement. 
 
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status. 
 
Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. 
 
Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists. 
 
The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee. 
 
Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority. 
 
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmar military for its persecution of the Rohingyas. 
 
Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century. 
 
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists. 
 
(Source: Press TV)

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