Situation Update | Ta Kreh and T'Nay Hsah Townships, Hpa-an District (December 2012)
The following situation update was written by a community member in Hpa-an District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This report was received along with other information from Hpa-an District, including 16 interviews, one other situation update and 155 photographs.
I went to T--- village, Htee Hpoh T'Ray village tract, Ta Kreh Township and I met with Muslim villagers: one medic and two villagers. Before I met with them, I heard the villagers saying to each other that they could not go and buy things from the Muslim [owned] shop. [They said]," If we go and buy [from shops owned by Muslims], and if people see us, they will ask [fine] us 100,000 kyat (US $115.94)." When I went and met with four Muslims on December 5th 2012, I took photos of the Muslims, the mosque, the village street, and I took photos when they were travelling within the village. When I asked them how it happened [the prohibitions on relations with Muslims], they told me about the things that happened in Rakhine State, concerning Buddhist and Muslim people torturing [tormenting] each other. The villagers saw it [footage from Rakhine State] on a CD, which was released, and [then] the monk published an order letter including four points. They [the Muslim villagers] copied it [the order letter] secretly and gave it to me. On December 6th 2012, when I arrived in N--- village, Ka Lah Kon village tract, T'Nay Hsah Township, I met with a Muslim medic and I interviewed him about the related issues. I did not take their photos, but I also interviewed a Muslim man whose name is Maung S---, 32 years old. When I interviewed him, he seemed like he was afraid of [something].
On December 7th 2012, I arrived back to Noh Kay village tract and the monks called the four villages to [attend] a meeting in M--- Monastery compound, and the villages are P--- village, A--- village, W--- village and M--- village. I saw that there were 41 villagers in attendance at the meeting and they held the meeting under the roof. There was only one monk and he took out the order letter that includes the four points. When they [the villagers and the monk] met, they discussed the four points in the meeting. The photos that I have taken are of the order letter that the big [powerful] monk released, and the meeting took 37 minutes. When the meeting ended, and when the villagers came back, I asked some villagers secretly regarding their opinion on the order letter, and they said that: "People will ask us to fight against each other again; in the past, the Baptists and the Buddhists, now, the Muslims and the Buddhists." I see that now, the monks have already had meetings in nearly all of the village tracts, in the villages and in the townships. I see that there is no hurting [violence] yet, but trading among each group has reduced, to only one third [of what it was before]. Their communication has also decreased compared with in the past.
Karen State, Hpa-an Town
Four Rules of the "Group for Maintaining and Protecting the Mission of Different religious sects"
1. The house, plantations and farmland of the ancestors owned by the Buddhists must not be sold to Muslims.
2. Buddhist women must not marry Muslims.
3. Buddhists should only buy from Buddhist shops.
4. Buddhists must not buy, build, or rent houses, plantation or farmland for Muslims in their names.
If you break the above four rules, you will be punished effectively.
(The decision from the special meeting of the "Group for Maintaining and Protecting Different religious sects," Mission held in M---Monastery, Hpa-an Town at 1:00 PM, on Wan Moon Day, 9th Wagaung, 1374 [Burmese calendar], Monday, September 10th 2012)
The four policies
1. Prohibition of Buddhists from selling, renting or pawning their houses, farms and lands to Muslims.
2. Prohibition of Buddhist women from marriage with Muslims.
3. Buddhists should patronize the Buddhist shops only.
4. Prohibition of Buddhists from using their names for the buying or renting of Buddhist owned houses, land, farming land, or orchard land to Muslims.