Two Bangladeshi nationals were arrested and hit with charges for defaming the Buddhist religion in Rangoon on Tuesday after they were caught disguising themselves as monks.
Bangladeshi citizens Rjin Barua, 27, and Dulal Barua, 29, had shaved heads and were allegedly wearing monk robs when they checked in at the Polo Guesthouse in the commercial capital, but later changed into normal attire later in the day.
The duo, who police said were Buddhists, were then arrested by Pabaden township police officials on Tuesday afternoon while wearing civilian garb, according to a post published on the Rangoon police department’s Facebook page.
Pabaden township’s police commander Aung Naing Myint said the two arrived in Rangoon on a flight from Bangkok and were en route to Malaysia.
According to the official, the suspects are being charged under article 295 of the penal code for defaming the Sasana, while a Muslim couple in Tharkayta township who reportedly arranged their trip will also be prosecuted.
“The [couple] arranged their trips – they flew to Bangkok from Bangladesh and then changed their flight to Rangoon,” said Aung Naing Myint.
“We are currently questioning the Muslim couple and they are likely to face human trafficking charges.”
The arrests come as sectarian tensions in Burma continue to stew following several rounds of anti-Muslim violence and a resurgent Buddhist nationalist movement calling for a boycott of Islamic businesses and ban against interfaith marriage.