BURMA: Company linked to retired army officers bulldozes Muslim cemeter

August 5, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-135-2011

5 August 2011
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BURMA: Company linked to retired army officers bulldozes Muslim cemetery

ISSUES: Freedom of religion; rule of law
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AHRC WEBSITE: BURMA PAGE
http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received details about a private company in Burma that with the backing of retired army officers sent bulldozers in the dead of night to destroy an historic Muslim cemetery so that the land can be claimed for commercial activities. The destruction was stopped after interventions from the local community, but extensive damage was already done and it is feared that the company will use further techniques to force the cemetery off the land. The case is another that illustrates the shifting character of rights abuse in many parts of Burma, from direct violations committed by the armed forces or police to those where private companies backed by serving and former government officials play a key role.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to information obtained by the AHRC, three bulldozers entered a historic Muslim cemetery in Meikhtila, upper Burma, around 2am on 25 July 2011 and began destroying gravesites without prior warning. After the intervention of the local Muslim community, they left the cemetery at about 11am on the same day. However, extensive damage had already been done to some graves. The bulldozers also have reportedly not been withdrawn completely but are still situated nearby, with the intention that they might be used again.

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