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Dozens of people have been arrested throughout Pegu division for having alleged connections with the anti-Muslim riots that rocked the region last month.
According to one resident in Gyobingauk, police are using photographs to pin down potential agitators and participants.
“The [police] are arresting those who appeared in photos vandalising homes and property – at least 50-60 people have been arrested,” said a Gyobingauk resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We saw them being taken to the police station before us in three light trucks. Even women are not being released.”
On Tuesday, Muslim leaders met with Pegu division’s Chief Minister Nyan Win to discuss what actions were being taken in the rioting’s wake.
“The [minister] said he was been making sure the rule of law [was implemented] and would take action on those who committed crimes. He also promised to look into our request to visit the areas [where riots took place],” said a spokesperson of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council-Myanmar Wunna Shwe.
According to the spokesperson, the group told concerned government officials that the rioting in March was caused by instigators and blamed government authorities for failing to prevent it. They also said authorities failed to properly handle the situation after the violence broke out, adding that if the government would have handed out legal punishments to those who committed crimes – then there would have been no need for more crime committees.
While authorities have begun to look for suspects involved in the rioting, locals have said officials are putting residents at risk by asking them to submit official evidence.
“The [police] told us to point out those involved in the unrest and that they would arrest them, but they require evidence or witnesses. No one wants to be a witness while eating one’s own rice (a common Burmese expression meaning minding one’s business),” said one resident in Zigon, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In Moenyo town, four people are being questioned for their connection with the riots while 21 other individuals are facing trial for breaking the curfew imposed under article-144.
However, residents in Moenyo criticised the police for taking too much time before arresting the perpetrators behind the rioting and instead arresting people for breaking the curfew.
“We know who the rioters are but so far there have only been four people arrested. But they took out 21 kids, who were caught in the streets going to work, etc. [during curfew],” said a resident in Moenyo town.
Police in Mandalay division’s Meikhtila township where riots first broke out said 35 criminal cases, which included arson and murder, were under investigation.