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Mosques, Madrasas likely to be demolished in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

The construction of mosques and religious schools in the region was banned in 1962 when military rule first established

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In Myanmar’s Rakhine State the destruction of Mosques and madrasas is being done on huge scale. VOA
  • The officials say they are working to bring down the mosques and other buildings built without permission
  • Myanmar officials say there are estimated 2,270 illegally-built buildings in Maungdaw and about 1,056 illegal buildings in Buthidaung
  • There’s a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar against the ethnic minority who are largely viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh

Sept 22, 2016: A high-level government official in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is set on demolishing hundreds of buildings, including mosques and Islamic religious schools, in the state’s Muslim-majority townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung.

“We are working to bring down the mosques and other buildings constructed without permission in accordance with the law,” Col. Htein Linn, Rakhine’s security and border affairs minister, told local media on Wednesday. One of his staff members told VOA’s Burmese Service that Minister Linn, recently appointed by Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is leading a campaign to review and raze an unknown number of structures.

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Myanmar officials say an estimated 2,270 illegally-built buildings, including nine mosques and 24 Muslim religious schools, are currently standing in Maungdaw, while some 1,056 illegal buildings, including three mosques and 11 madrasas, stand in Buthidaung.

Rakhine State, one of Burma’s poorest regions, is home to an estimated 125,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims, the majority of whom remain confined to temporary camps following waves of deadly violence in 2012 between Buddhists and Muslims.

In Myanmar, also known as Burma, the long-persecuted ethnic minority is largely viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though many have lived in the country for generations. Increased freedom of speech since the military stepped back from the direct rule in 2011 has allowed for the unleashing of long-held anti-Muslim sentiment.

Construction of mosques and religious schools in the region was banned in 1962 when military rule was first established in the country.

The apparently sudden decision to implement the ban on religious structures coincides with Aung San Suu Kyi’s address to the United Nation’s General Assembly, which punctuated her first visit to the United States as state counsellor and foreign minister. During her visit, President Barack Obama agreed to lift economic sanctions on the South-east Asian country, citing its “remarkable social and political transformation.”

Obama’s decision to lift sanctions rankled some human rights activists who say the government has yet to do enough to address the Rohingya’s longstanding persecution.

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Muslim community leader U Aye Lwin, a member of a Rohingya conflict investigatory commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, tells VOA that local Muslims are deeply concerned and have already reached out to other Myanmar officials.

“Muslim religious leaders did attempt to meet with the Union Minister for Religious Affairs,” he said. “There is freedom of religion according to law, and so religious sites should be in place or should be renovated.”

According to a report by the Democratic Voice of Burma, the plan to destroy the facilities “has led to concern among residents, with Muslim leaders indicating that such moves could create unnecessary tensions between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in the western state.”

The publication also said Linn confirmed that an upcoming official announcement will include a scheduled timeline for demolition.

While visiting with President Obama last week, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed ongoing tensions among Myanmar’s 135 ethnic groups, calling her administration especially focused on the situation in Rakhine state, where she said: “communal strife is not something we can ignore.”

According to wire news reports, at least eight people were killed and thousands displaced earlier this week by clashes in south-east Myanmar, where renewed violence is threatening to undercut the new government’s push for peace. Fighting also broke out this month between government troops and an ethnic rebel splinter group known as the DKBA in Karen state, near the border with Thailand. (VOA)

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Will India be able to get hold of Zakir Naik? India to now seek Interpol’s help locating the Controversial Islamic Televangelist

Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons

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Zakir Naik
Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik speaks to Indian journalists in Mumbai during a video conference, July 15, 2016. Benar News

Mumbai, October 29, 2017 : India plans to ask Interpol to help track down Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher accused of making inflammatory speeches that inspired attackers at a Bangladesh café in July 2016, an official said Friday, one day after the cleric was charged with inciting communal hatred.

In a charge-sheet filed in a Mumbai court late Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleged that televangelist Zakir Naik was involved in a criminal conspiracy to foment terrorism and hatred among religious communities by lauding terrorist outfits.

The 61-page document viewed by BenarNews also accused Naik’s now-forbidden Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and his company Harmony Media Pvt. Ltd. (HMPL) of forwarding his agenda.

Naik, 51, came under the Indian government’s radar after Bangladesh media reported that at least two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery café, where 20 hostages were killed in July 2016, were influenced by his sermons.

ALSO READ NIA to file Chargesheet against Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik

“We are already preparing papers to get him deported back to India,” an NIA official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity. Naik, who left the country in June 2016, is believed to be traveling between the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) president on Friday defended Naik against the charge sheet filed in India, the Malay Mail reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” Hadi said in an opinion piece on Islamophobia published in Harakah Daily.

Naik had been scheduled to appear at a PAS-organized gathering of Muslim scholars in Malaysia’s Kelantan state in July, but cancelled after India revoked his passport.

Arrest warrant issued in April

In April, the Mumbai court issued a so-called non-bailable arrest warrant against Naik after he repeatedly ignored summons issued by India’s Enforcement Directorate to appear to respond to allegations of misuse of foreign funds donated to his NGO.

The Indian government imposed a five-year ban on IRF in November 2016, citing violations by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

“Since the money-laundering case against Naik hinged on the NIA investigation, it was necessary that the agency filed its charge-sheet,” public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar told BenarNews.

The NIA’s charge-sheet will allow the agency to approach Interpol for assistance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can then initiate the process of bringing Naik back, Venegaonkar said.

ALSO READ Enforcement Directorate (ED) files Money Laundering Case against controversial Preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation

The NIA accused Zakir Naik of praising late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, supporting suicide attacks and denouncing Hindu gods during sermons delivered through Peace TV. The channel partly funded by the IRF is banned in several countries, including India and Bangladesh.

The NIA has “firmly established that the incriminating public speeches have been in circulation through electronic media such as CD/DVD and web portals Facebook/YouTube etc.,” the charge-sheet said.

“The minutes of IRF board of trustees’ meeting disclose that IRF has approved, organized, promoted and funded public lectures of accused Zakir Naik, including his incriminating speeches. The seized material such as DVD and books list IRF as the publisher,” it said.

The agency also established the role of HMPL in editing the incriminating material and “forwarding [Naik’s] speeches to the Global Broadcast Corporation Dubai for broadcast in the Peace TV.”

“The derogatory and malicious remarks were not just confined to faiths and beliefs of Hindus or Christians but also included non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi and Barelwis,” the NIA said.

The charge-sheet cited cases of several youths who were allegedly influenced by Naik’s sermons and attempted to join the Islamic State.

The accused “never included any reference to alternative interpretations by Muslim scholars of the views he presented nor sought to mitigate the potential offence by providing sufficient context for his remarks,” it said.

Lawyer prepared to challenge extradition

Zakir Naik’s lawyer S. Hariharan said he would wait to decide the next course of action.

“I have yet to receive the charge-sheet. Although as per protocol the charge-sheet is handed to the accused. But in this case, the accused is not present in the country,” Hariharan told Benarnews without divulging Naik’s current location.

“We will most certainly be seeking discharge after we receive the charge-sheet and will also challenge demands for extradition,” he added. (Benar News)

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‘No Choice But to Accept’: Myanmar Hindus Face Forced Conversion In Refugee Camps

Hindu ladies who are living there told that they are being asked to remove sindoor and break their bangles. A large number of ladies are allegedly compelled to surrender their Hindu customs.

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Refugee camps near Cox's Bazar.
Refugee camps near Cox's Bazar. wikimedia
  • The article is based on the facts and data published by dailymail India, on Myanmar Hindus.

Myanmar Hindus who fled to Bangladesh border seeking refuge are now facing new troubles in the Relief Camps.

Reportedly, some organizations are forcing conversion on Hindus living in the Refugee Camps in Bangladesh. Most of the victims are helpless women and the young girls of Hindu community who have no choice but to accept, to survive in the immediate situation.

The Relief Camps are situated in Cox’s Bazar, a Muslim majority area situated at the border of Bangladesh.

Myanmar Hindu women forced to Convert

Hindu ladies who are living there told that they are being asked to remove sindoor (a customary vermilion red powder worn by married women) and break their bangles. A large number of ladies are allegedly compelled to surrender their Hindu customs and read namaz (Muslim prayer) 5 times each day.

One such woman is Puja Mullick who was forced to convert a month ago. She has experienced torture for about three weeks, Now she is known as Rabia.

Another woman Rica Dhar alias Sadia narrating the August incidence told ‘they entered all the Hindu residences and attacked. First, the mobile phones were taken away and then men were tied and beaten brutally. My husband worked as a goldsmith’.

‘They took away all my jewellery and began beating me. All Hindus were identified and taken to a nearby hill. They were then killed in a row. Only eight women were allowed to stay among them… mostly young and beautiful’.

Puja Mullick (alias Rabia) in red saree and Rica Dhar(alias Sadia) with her baby.
Puja Mullick (alias Rabia) in red saree and Rica Dhar(alias Sadia) with her baby. dailymail

Puja is originally a Hindu who was seeking shelter after the situation worsened in Myanmar. Be that as it may, conditions flipped around her life.

lost her husband in the attack which took place in the last week of August, probably around the time when the conflict grew.

She told that her husband was not killed by the armed forces, it was a group of men clad in black, whose faces were hidden, possibly she meant the Radical Islamists.

Role of Local Authorities

Around 500 Myanmar Hindus have been driven out from their own houses. They have entered into Bangladeshi territory and are scattered in different parts of this district.

As per the dailymail, when Bangladesh officials were asked about the issue of forced conversion, they gave assurance to investigate the matter and give punish whosoever is behind all this.

Myanmar hindu camps at Bangladesh border.
Myanmar hindu camps at Bangladesh border.

Though all the refugees are living in different camps among their religion or community, even then also the conditions are tough.

One cannot guess what has been happening to those Myanmar Hindus who have been suffering it since past few months.

Is it bad to talk about Hindus in this country?

There is an open discussion on every subject in India then, why is this issue being cornered?

Indian media and political leaders debate about other religions all day, but when it comes to talking about Hindus, no one is interested.

What is the future of Myanmar Hindus? It has become very important to talk about this subject.

The elite media houses are only exposed to certain issues only, they have already sold themselves to different ideologies, that is why they do not give any coverage to Myanmar Hindu issue.

As a mindful individual, everyone should come forward and raise their voice against the torture and injustice done to Myanmar Hindus.

 

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Radical Islamist Outfits in Myanmar are Killing Innocent Hindus

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A Hindu woman in Myanmar. Wikimedia

On September 25, Myanmar Police found a mass grave containing dozens of dead bodies of Hindus, in the conflict-torn Rakhine state. The police confirmed that the grave had total 28 dead bodies, out of which 20 are women and 8 men, including six dead bodies of boys who were under the age of ten.

Hindu Villages burned in myanmar
Houses are on fire in northern Rakhine state, Myanmar.  VOA

The Conflict Zone 

The Rakhine region is dominated by the Radical Islamist Rohingyas, who are targeting the Hindus and other peaceful communities over there. They have been carrying out the attacks on the Hindu villages since a month. Recently, about 500 Hindus left their villages in the Rakhine state and now are living in a camp near Bangladesh border.

The Rakhine state of Myanmar.  VOA

Rohingya Militants have completely destroyed the Northern Rakhine village and have brutally attacked villagers.

The Growing Tension

The Rohingya Muslims are in the clash with the majority Buddhist. Since, October last year, Myanmar forces are in the direct clash with the ARSA. The internal conflict is growing bigger and bigger and does not seem to stop. The rage between the two is said to have been aggravated after, The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) ravaged police posts.

The ARSA is also said to have links with Radical Islamist organizations and Militants in other parts of the world.

Why left out?

The ongoing conflict in the Rakhine region has killed dozens of Hindus and displaced many. But unfortunately, no one has come forward to condemn atrocities on Hindus. It seems that the left liberators and the social activists are quite choosy about their issues of concern and killings of Hindus does not matter to them. (VOA)