Buddhist Mob Attacks on Christian Congregants Left Four Injured, Houses Destroyed in Sagaing Region
12 July 2017 — Local Buddhist mob attacks on Christian congregants had left four people injured, and houses and properties belonging to local Christian families destroyed on the evening of July 7, 2017, Chin Human Rights Organization has reported.
On July 6, 2017, the monk abbot of Teetaw Village (တည္ေတာေက်းရြာ) Monastery Sayadaw Batta Namone Neinda (ဆရာေတာ္ ဘတၲာနမုနိႏၵ) and Village General Administrative Officer U Kyaw Maung summoned four members of the new Christian converts in Teetaw Village to the Village Monastery, and pressured them to re-covert to Buddhism by making them choose between re-conversion into Buddhism and being banished from the village. The four refused to reconvert.
Teetaw Village (တည္ေတာေက်းရြာ) is located about one mile outside of Htee Chaik (ထီးခ်ဳိင့္ၿမိဳ႕) Town. Three families in the village were converted to Christianity from Buddhism through missionary work of the Assembly of God Church based in Hakha, Chin State.
Following their refusal to reconvert, the monk and the Village General Administrative Officer then sent an official complaint letter to the Chair of Htee Chaik Township Sangha Mahana Committee and Township General Administrative Officer, as well as Village GA Officers in the Village Tract, asking for the banishment of the new Christian converts on allegations that they have “insulted the village monk abbot and other Buddhists, defied orders not to celebrate Christian festivities and that the predominant Buddhist villagers do not want to live side by side with those worshipping ‘Kalar’ God.”
Acting on the complaint, the Htee Chaik Township Sangha Mahana Committee Chair and his team conducted a field visit to investigate. The investigative team found the complaint to be untrue and declared that no actions needed to be taken in the matter since “freedom of religion is ensured in Myanmar.”
Ignoring the investigation findings, the monk abbot and Village Administrative Officers from Teetaw Village Tract (Which include Teetaw (တည္ေတာ)၊ Tha Khut Chaung (သခြပ္ေခ်ာင္), Kuku Kone (ကုဣိဳကုန္း) Kyet Tha Ye Chaung (က်က္သေရေခ်ာင္းေက်းရြာ) Villages) organized the villagers in five vehicles and pelted rocks at the Christian home where religious worship service was being held. The mob attacks occured on the evening of June 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm and lasted for four hours till 12:00 am.
Police were alerted and Htee Chaik Myoma Police Station Chief Ye Htut Aung and 10 police personnel arrived at the scene. But they quickly found themselves unable to stop the mob from attacking. The attackers only stopped and dispersed when they overheard the police radioing the Sagaing Region Police Chief asking for the use of deadly force to break up the mob.
“Had the police not arrived in time, the attackers were ready to burn down the house and kill the occupants. Some of the attackers were yelling ‘burn them down,’ while others tried to stop them for fear that the fire could spread to other houses nearby,” an eyewitness observed.
The 4-hour long attacks left four people injured, two currently hospitalized at Htee Chaik Civil Hospital; two motorcycles and two bicycles damaged and two houses and all the furniture in them destroyed.
12 Christians who escaped the attacks are now being sheltered at the Assembly of God Church in Htee Chaik. The authorities have not so far made an arrest as a formal complaint has yet to be lodged.
There are four villages in Teetaw Village Tracts: Teetwa (320 households), Kuku Kone (75 households), Kyet Tha Ye Chaung (210 households) and Tha Kut Chuang (200 households). In organizing the attackers, the abbot monk and Village GA Officers had asked one person per household from the respective villages.