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Authorities in Mandalay have relaxed the eight-hour curfew imposed upon seven townships three weeks after communal violence rocked the city’s Chan Aye Tharzan Township. The curfew is still in effect from 9pm to 3pm.
On 1 July, communal violence broke out between the Muslim and Buddhist populations after a false rumour spread throughout the town that two Muslim teashop owners had raped a Buddhist maid. Two men – one Buddhist and one Muslim – were killed, while roughly 20 more were injured in the ensuing violence. Divisional authorities then levied a 9pm to 5am curfew upon seven townships.
Ohn Lwin, secretary of the Mandalay Division’s government, said that the curfew period will now end at 3 am, although security forces will remain on the ground.
“The important thing is for the people to not buy into rumours that they heard by mouth without seeing it verified with their own eyes,” Ohn Lwin said, adding that building trust between the two religious communities is also vital to preventing further violence.
Ohn Lwin said that it is currently still “impossible” to completely lift the curfew.
The Mandalay Peacekeeping Committee – made up of local civil society groups to monitor the situation and dispel rumours – recently reached out to the divisional government to lift the curfew, explaining that such a restrictive time frame was causing difficulties in the social, economic and health sectors.
Zin Maung, a sales coordinator at a Mandalay supermarket, said that it would be better if the curfew could be eased at night, rather than in the early morning.
“It would be more convenient if the curfew is relaxed in the evening because now we have to close our shops by around 7pm,” Zin Maung said.