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False rape claim behind latest religious clashes: Myanmar media

Last Updated: Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 15:52

Manadalay: Myanmar`s latest religious clashes began after a Buddhist woman was paid to make false rape claims against two Muslim brothers, state media reported Sunday.

Two men -- a Buddhist and a Muslim -- died in riots in the country`s second city Mandalay that flared on July 1 following social media reports that the Muslim men had raped a Buddhist employee at their tea shop.

More than 20 others were wounded as violence rocked the city for several days, the latest in a series of religious clashes that have bedevilled the former junta-run nation for two years.

But a police investigation found the woman was paid to fabricate the accusation against the men, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

The report, citing the Ministry of Home Affairs, said a medical examination of the woman -- named as Phyu Phyu Min -- found "no sign of rape or other violence".

"After a detailed investigation she confessed that she accused the two men because she was paid" to do so by two other people who apparently had a personal dispute with the tea shop owners.

The woman has been arrested alongside one of the people alleged to have paid her, the report said.

The unrest, which saw a curfew imposed as security forces moved in to disperse angry mobs, again spotlighted the incendiary nature of relations between Myanmar`s Buddhists and the Muslim minority.

Buddhist-Muslim clashes have left at least 250 people dead and tens of thousands displaced since fighting broke out in Myanmar`s western state of Rakhine in 2012. 

Most of the victims have been Muslims. Violence has often erupted as a result of rumours or individual criminal acts.

While Mandalay has a sizeable Muslim minority and also plays host to a group of nationalist Buddhist monks, it had not suffered religious unrest on such a scale before.

Radical Buddhist monks have been accused of fanning tensions, with Mandalay-based hardline cleric Wirathu posting a link to the rape allegations just hours before the unrest broke out. 

The deadly religious flare-ups have prompted warnings that the country`s fragile transition to democracy could be imperilled.

Responding to the rioting, President Thein Sein said "serious action" would be taken against those involved and hinted that hard-won media freedoms could be compromised if unrest continued. 

First Published: Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 15:52
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