2013 Myanmar anti-Muslim riots

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2013 Myanmar anti-Muslim riots
LocationSagaing Region, Mandalay Region, Shan State
Date20 March 2013 (2013-03-20) – 2 October 2013 (2013-10-02) (UTC+06:30)
Attack type

The 2013 Myanmar anti-Muslim riots were a series of conflicts in various cities throughout central and eastern Myanmar (Burma).

March riots in Meiktila[edit]

Tensions between Buddhist and Muslim ethnic groups flared into violent clashes in Meiktila, Mandalay Division on 20 March and continued until the 22nd, killing at least 40 and wounding 61 people. The violence started on 20 March after a Muslim gold shop owner, his wife, and two Muslim employees assaulted a Buddhist customer and her husband in an argument over a golden hairpin. A large mob formed and began to destroy the shop. The heavily outnumbered police reportedly told the mob to disperse after they had destroyed the shop.[3] In the evening, a local Buddhist monk not involved in the incident was dragged from his bicycle, doused in petrol, and burnt alive by six Muslim youths at a nearby mosque.[4] The killing of the monk caused the relatively contained situation to explode, greatly increasing intensity and violence.[3]

The deadliest incident occurred when a Buddhist mob attacked and torched the Mingalar Zayone Islamic Boarding School. While outnumbered security forces stood by, rioters armed with machetes, metal pipes, chains, and stones killed 32 teenage students and four teachers.[5]

On 25 March, communal rioting targeting Muslim houses and mosques spread to the towns of Othekone, Tatkone and Yamenthin. At least 9,000 residents were documented to have been displaced by the violence.[6] In April, the BBC obtained a leaked police video showing outnumbered police officers standing by while rioters torched houses and businesses in Meiktila. The video also shows the burning and killing of at least two Muslim students at the hands of rioters, which included Buddhist monks. The video was captured to prosecute the perpetrators later in court. On the third day, the situation stabilised when the government declared a state of emergency and deployed military troops.[3]

On 21 May, seven Muslims, including the gold shop owner and those who perpetrated the murder of the monk, were convicted for inciting the unrest and jailed from 2 up to 28 years. In July, the Burmese courts sentenced 25 Buddhists to up to 15 years in prison for murder and other crimes during the riot.[1]

April riots in Okkan[edit]

On 30 April 400 Buddhists armed with bricks and sticks overran mosques and torched more than 100 homes and shops in Okkan, killing two people and injuring at least ten more. Another 77 homes were destroyed in the nearby villages of Yadanakon, Panipin, Chaukthe and Thekon. The riot reportedly began when a Muslim woman on a motorcycle accidentally bumped into a Buddhist monk, knocking over his alms bowl.[7]

May riots in Lashio[edit]

On 29 May, violence broke out in Lashio, Shan State, near Myanmar's border with China, after a rumour spread on social media that a 48-year-old Muslim man named Ne Win poured petrol on a young Buddhist woman with whom he was arguing and set her on fire.[8] In response, a Buddhist mob armed with machetes and bamboo poles torched a mosque, a Muslim orphanage, and several shops after the police refused to surrender Ne Win. The Buddhists continued to riot the next day and at least one person died.[9] Sword-wielding Buddhist gangs began patrolling the streets on motorbikes, forcing as many as 1,400 Muslims to take shelter in a Buddhist monastery until the police and army were able to restore order.

August riots in Kantbalu[edit]

On 24 August, violence once again flared up in Htan Gon village, 16 kilometres south of Kantbalu in the Sagaing Region, following rumours that a Muslim man tried to sexually assault a young Buddhist woman.[10] Local monks led a 1,000-strong Buddhist mob to retaliate by burning down Muslim owned businesses and the village mosque. State television reported that 42 houses and 15 shops owned primarily by Muslims were razed during the three-hour riot. One firefighter and one civilian were injured in the incident. Police officers were powerless to contain the violence, but finally dispersed the mob by firing their pistols into the air.[10][11][12]

October riots in Thandwe[edit]

Between 29 September and 2 October, Rakhine Buddhists rioted and attacked Kamein Muslims in Thabyachaing and Linthi villages, about 20 kilometres north of the coastal town of Thandwe in Rakhine State. Seven Muslims and two Buddhists were killed and between 70 and 80 houses were set on fire. About 500 ethnic Kamein Muslims were forced to flee from their homes.[13][14] Local residents were worried that a further round of violence between Rakhine Buddhist and Muslim communities would ensue after two young Rakhine Buddhists girls aged five and six were found murdered on 17 and 18 November in separate incidents. One victim reportedly appeared to have been raped.[15]


In April 2013, Muslim and Buddhist detainees from Myanmar clashed at a refugee camp in Indonesia. Eight Buddhists were killed and fifteen other people were wounded.[16] Sources have asserted that the provocation for the riot was due to sexual harassment against female Rohingya Muslim inmates by the Rakhine Buddhist inmates.[17][18] An Indonesian court jailed 14 Muslim Rohingya for nine months each in December. The sentence was lighter than the maximum penalty for violence resulting in death, which is 12 years. The men's lawyer said they would appeal for freedom because there was no real evidence shown during the trial.[19]

In May, two Muslims were arrested for planning to attack the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia with pipe-bombs.[20] The mastermind of the plot said he was still at war with anyone oppressing Muslims.[19]

In June, at least four Buddhists were murdered in Malaysia which was linked to ethnic tensions in Myanmar. All the victims, including a man slashed to death by a machete-wielding mob in Kuala Lumpur, were Buddhists from Myanmar. Malaysian police had arrested approximately 60 Burmese immigrants in an attempt to control tensions.[21]

In July, Muslims were blamed for the Bodh Gaya bombings, which targeted one of Buddhism's most revered sites. Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts.[20]

On 5 August, two pipe-bombs went off outside the Ekayana Buddhist Centre in West Jakarta as some 300 people gathered inside the temple for a sermon, injuring three people.[22] There was a note from the perpetrators that read "We respond to the screams of the Rohingya".[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Burma jails 25 Buddhists for mob killings of 36 Muslims in Meikhtila". The Guardian. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  2. ^ Hodal, Kate (22 March 2013). "Ethnic violence erupts in Burma leaving scores dead". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b c "The Dark Side of Transition: Violence Against Muslims in Myanmar" (PDF). The International Crisis Group. 1 October 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 March 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  4. ^ Jason Szep (8 April 2013). "Special Report: Buddhist monks incite Muslim killings in Myanmar". Reuters. Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  5. ^ Aye Aye Win (12 July 2013). "Buddhists sentenced over Burma riot". 3 News. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Burma communal rioting spreads outside Meiktila". BBC News. 25 March 2013. Archived from the original on 25 March 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  7. ^ Yadana Htun (30 April 2013). "Myanmar Anti-Muslim Violence Injures at Least 10 in Okkan As Mosques, Homes Attacked". HuffPost. AP. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  8. ^ Akinwotu, Emmanuel (7 October 2021). "Facebook's role in Myanmar and Ethiopia under new scrutiny". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  9. ^ Brennan O'Connor (29 May 2013). "In Pictures: Myanmar's sectarian divide". Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Buddhists in Burma Torch Muslim Homes and Shops". Irrawaddy.org. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Buddhists burn Muslim homes and shops in Burma". The Daily Telegraph. AP. 26 August 2013. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Burma violence: Rioters burn Muslim homes and shops". BBC News. 25 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  13. ^ Nyein Nyein (15 October 2013). "Six Suspects Confess to Thandwe Murders: Home Affairs Ministry". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Thandwe Death Toll Rises to 7 With Discovery of Two More Bodies". The Irrawaddy. 11 October 2013. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Rakhine on edge after two girls found dead". The Myanmar Times. 25 November 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Sumatra: eight dead and 15 wounded in clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims". AsiaNews. 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Indonesian prison riot sparked by rapes of Female Rohingya Inmates". Democratic Voice of Burma. 10 April 2013. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Rohingya-Buddhist Clashes in Indonesia 'Caused by Rape of Three Rohingya Muslim Women'". Democratic Voice of Burma. 9 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Indonesia jails Myanmar Muslims over Buddhist killings". Yahoo! News Australia. 5 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Buddhism v Islam in Asia: Fears of a new religious strife". The Economist. 27 July 2013. Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  21. ^ Stuart Grudgings (6 June 2013). "Four Dead As Burma Violence Spills into Malaysia-Police". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  22. ^ Farouk Arnaz (5 August 2013). "Explosion at Indonesian Buddhist Temple Injures Three: Police". Jakarta Globe. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  23. ^ Yenni Kwok (7 August 2013). "Jakarta Bomb a Warning That Burma's Muslim-Buddhist Conflict May Spread". Time. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013.