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Myanmar Urged To Reopen 2 Muslim Schools

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Schools in Tharkayta Township of country’s largest city Yangon were closed on Apr. 28 over fears of destruction or torching

An international rights group on Monday urged the government of Myanmar to reopen two Muslim religious schools that were shut down late April following the demands of a mob led by ultra-nationalist monks.

Local authorities -- following negotiations with local Muslim leaders -- closed two madrasahs in Tharkayta Township of the country’s largest city, Yangon, on April 28 after more than 100 people led by ultra-nationalist Buddhist monks demanded the immediate closure of religious schools in the area which they claimed were being operated as mosques.

New York-based Human Rights Watch on Monday said the closure was "the latest government failure to protect country’s religious minorities".

"The government should immediately reverse these closures, end restrictions on the practice of minority religions, and prosecute Buddhist ultra-nationalists who break the law in the name of religion," said HRW’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson.

A senior officer at Yangon Police Force told Anadolu Agency on April 29 that the schools were "sealed off temporarily" and "without any court decree to prevent the further unnecessary conflicts".

Tin Shwe, the head of one of the madrasahs sealed off in the area, said the mob was believed to have been ready to destroy or torch the schools unless the authorities gave into their demands.

Phil Robertson said: "Burma’s leaders can’t sit back and wait for the next round of violence against a minority group.

"They need to take proactive steps to address religious tensions and disputes so that all can practice their religions peacefully and safely."

Anti-Muslim movements have been on the rise in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar since an outbreak in communal violence in the western Rakhine state in 2012.

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