Mosque building halted in Burma’s Kachin state

seng-tawng-in-kachin_336_280Construction of a Muslim mosque in Kachin state’s jade-rich Hpakant township in northern Burma ceased on April 12 when a group of monks and their supporters intervened and proceeded to dismantle the partially built structure.

According to eyewitnesses a group of about 30 monks and dozens of their followers came to the construction site in the Shan Kone quarter of Seng Tawng at 4 pm demanding that building stop.

The group then set about taking down what had already been built.  Within about 8 hours most of the building was destroyed, according to witnesses.  The site of the mosque is now under guard by soldiers from the Burma army.

The monks and their supporters were apparently upset that the mosque was being built without proper permits and decided to take matters into their own hands, according to local residents.
In Burma government authorities often delay or refuse to allow proposed churches and mosques legal authorization to begin construction. Many existing churches and mosques are in legal limbo because proper permits cannot be obtained.

It is unclear if the group of monks and their supporters in Seng Tawng were encouraged by government authorities to take such provocative action as they did on Thursday.  Previous acts of communal violence that have taken place in Burma are alleged to have been orchestrated by government agent provocateurs.

For many years the US state department has listed Burma as a country that engages in the persecution of religious minorities.

Although most Kachin are Christian, Kachin state is home to a large Buddhist population, some Animists and significant Muslim and Hindu minorities.  The state capital Myitkyina also has a Sikh temple.  Due to Hpakant’s jade mines the township has many migrants from across Burma.

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