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Four houses were burnt in an attack against an interfaith couple in Nattalin Township, Pegu Division on 16 April, according to local authorities. No one was injured and authorities said that calm has been restored.
Khin Aye, the National League for Democracy chairperson for Nattalin Township and member of a local security committee, told DVB that a mob gathered on 15 April, surrounding the house of a young Buddhist woman. The crowd demanded that her family “turn over” her Muslim partner, who was visiting the house at the time.
Khin Aye said the woman called the police, who arrived promptly and escorted the man to safety, but some villagers returned the next day and burnt down four houses, including the home of the woman’s parents.
“On the evening of 15 April, the girl called the police requesting help, reporting that a mob had surrounded her house and was demanding the man be turned over. When her family refused, they threatened to burn down the house. Police arrived at the scene in time and escorted the man to safety as the mob smashed the windshields of police vehicles.
“The incident led to an argument between local monks and the girl’s family. On 16 April, the mob came back and burnt down four houses, including the homes of the girl’s parents and other relatives.”
Local authorities said that they are taking steps to prevent further violence, however an official on duty at Nattalin police station told DVB by phone on Friday that no legal action has been taken against any of the attackers.
Similar incidents targeting Muslims broke out in Pegu’s Zigon, Nattalin, Jobingauk, Minhla, Tharawaddy and Monyo townships following the Buddhist New Year in 2013.
A controversial draft interfaith marriage law is currently being debated in parliament, which, if passed, would require non-Buddhist men to convert in order to marry a Buddhist woman. Interfaith couples would also be made to obtain written consent from the bride’s parents.