When the vocalist of Myanmar based punk band Rebel Riot shared this with us:
“Our friend Darko who plays in side effect band wrote a song about Meikhtila. Meikhtila was a big conflict between Islam and Buddhism here. People died from religious violence…it was so sad and frightening. Now, this video clip is showing a peaceful message about humanity between different believers!”
We immediately paused everything we were doing to listen to the track and find out more about just what happened in Meikhtila between Muslims and Buddhists.
A quick background about the violence at Meikhtila:
“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. 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. The killing of the monk caused the relatively contained situation to explode, greatly increasing intensity and violence.
WARNING: Horrific video footage
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.
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. 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.
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.” – Wikipedia
The incredibly moving track and even MORE moving music video were created by an NGO called Turning Tables Myanmar. “Turning Tables Myanmar (TTM) working to empower Myanmar youth by providing them with channels and means to amplify their voices on issues that concerns FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, SOCIAL COHESION, PEACE through their art Music and Film.” Together with Darko, the organization just released a total of 5 videos supporting the youth and freedom of expression. Check out all in the playlist further below.
This song is so powerful…you should all be watching it and sharing it now.
Go support Turning Tables here: https://www.facebook.com/TurningTablesMyanmar/
Photo Credit: Arne Aelterman