Myanmar Constitution grants religious freedom but local officials attempt to attenuate Muslim places of worship

November 8th,2016
Reported By Phyu Lay

Under the civilian government led by Noble laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD Party, as a further attempt to obliterate Islamic sacred places, local authorities decreed to demolish a Muslim place of worship in Shwe Hley village of Belin Township, Mon state.

Issued on November 6 – unusually on weekend – by the township administration, the statement instructed Mosque trustee to completely dislodge the mosque that has been used as a place of worship for 50 years by local Muslim community.
“On November 5th, we received a verbal order form the township administration to demolish the Mosque. When we called for a written order, it was issued today on Sunday” said a patron of Belin chapter of Islamic Religious Council.

The letter issued by Belin Township Administration referring the order of District Administration stated that as Shwe Hley mosque was built on agricultural land without being properly granted from the authority for religious purposes rather than for agriculture, it has been decided and instructed to take severe and necessary measures according to the law.

“We have already informed relevant Islamic religious organizations of the situation. The Chairman of the Islamic Religious Council told us we needn’t demolish it ourselves. We also decided not to destroy the mosque with our own hands. And we are trying our best to save our place of worship”, patron added.

Shwe Hley Mosque was built on a 0.40-acre land that was donated by U Bo Pu and Daw Maryam Bi, residents of the village, in 1967. And after twenty years in 1987, the Mosque was renovated by the permission of then ruler Socialist Party but was not completed then due to the countrywide political uprising in 1988. As the government that came to power after the uprising did not allow to continue its renovation, local Muslim community had no choice than to use old, decayed wooden building till now.

Township administration’s statement urged the trustee to demolish the Mosque by November 18th and to report their work done afterwards.
During the seven-month-old civilian government, at least two mosques have been destroyed across the country.

Translated  by Aung Thiha

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