Causes behind the issue of anti-Islamic signboard in Yatsauk,Shan State,Myanmar

17th Jun 2015
Reported by Thiha

Yat Sout

It was reported that on 15th Jun 2015, a signboard with the title of “Islam Free (No Islam) Zone 1” was posted at over 3 PM in a place called Zawgyi Turn, Oattantar Block, Yatsauk (Lawsawk) Township, Shan State,Myanmar.

At both corners of the signboard were two copies of the flag of Buddhism and the following three statements were written on it.

(1) Muslims are not allowed to stay in this place at night;
(2) Muslims are not allowed to rent, sell or buy lands and housing in this place; and
(3) Muslims are not allowed to get married with Buddhists.

The group who made it mentioned themselves as Zawgyi Turn Patriot Group.

Yatsauk residents had confirmed that that signboard was placed there.

Inquiring about the underlying reasons causing that issue, it was known that more than 20 villagers who utilized stream water passing through Nyaung Kyo Village in Yatsauk Township area suffered from gastroenteritis as well as one buffalo died and the other got severely sick.

Rumors that U Tin Oo, a Muslim, who grew farm near upper end of the stream, was accused of poisoning the stream water had come out.

Regarding that matter, the Nayung Kyo Villagers informed Yatsauk Township Committee of Protection of Nationality and Religion known as Ma Ba Tha against him.

On 7th Jun, Ma Ba Tha led a discussion among leading members of township peace and interfaith association, the alleged U Tin Oo and the villagers.

U Tin Oo had run agricultural work there since about 30 years ago. Along the stream, Palaung ethnic people grew farm as well. It was true that he used herbicides in his farm as all farmers in the whole village routinely did. He explained that there was no cause for him to poison the stream water.

However, the villagers did not accept his explanation at all and forced him to knock down his brick nogging house where his family lived in, stay in temporary hut until harvest and then move from his farm. People under Ma Ba Tha gave him pressure and so, he finally had to sign to knock down the building within 15 days.

On 8th Jun, township police authority investigated him and his son. Also, rural health personnel examined the herbicide he used and the sick villagers. According to examination results, the herbicide used did not contain any harmful thing to humans and animals. The news of poisoning death of a buffalo was not confirmed. It was also examined that the cause of villagers’ gastroenteritis was not poisoning.

On 14th Jun, a mob of villagers led by U Nyan Linn Oo, a government communication officer in Yatsauk Township, who is also an active organizer of Ma Ba Tha, came to U Tin Oo. They started knocking down his house, rebuking him for not keeping his signed promise of demolishing house. At that time, township peace and interfaith association requested the mob not to do unlawfully and appealed Township Ma Ba Tha President Buddhist monk to stop them. The monk also prevented the mob not to act illegally.

It was reported that the mob returned whereas the police force came to U Tin Oo’s compound after the responsible persons of township peace and interfaith association had informed township administrative and police authorities.

On 15th Jun 2015, one day just after the above problem, the issue of posting ‘Islam Free (No Islam) Zone 1’ signboard was came out at Zawgyi Turn, Oattantar Block. The responsible block administrator tired to prevent the group who made it from position it, resulting in a clash between two parties.

“2012 later, 969 (later transformed into Ma Ba Tha) continuously organized anti-Islamic movements in Yatsauk Township. At least six mob attacks were attempted to demolish Yatsauk Township Mosque by exaggerating routine daily social problems. Those anti-Islamic activities were staged by government township communication office staff U Nyan Linn Oo and Eden Tun Tun. There is no major problem during these years because after founding four major religions participating peace and interfaith association, it tried to follow legal procedure for any social and religious issues, negotiating with township Ma Ba Tha Buddhist monks. Only now just after the alleged case of poisoning stream water, anti-Islamic movements are frankly carried out again,” a Yatsauk local resident said.

A local news journal, Friday Times, reported that the township administrative authority had already instructed to remove that signboard.

There are over 1 700 Muslim population of more than 200 households and one mosque in Yatsauk Township.

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