Malaysia clashes stoke fear of Myanmar spillover


SELAYANG, Malaysia - Myanmar migrant Yaza Min came to Malaysia several years ago seeking a better life but instead has hidden for more than three weeks in a temple, fearing for his safety as Muslim-Buddhist violence back home spilled over.

Secretarian bloodshed between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims erupted in Myanmar a year ago, leaving about 200 people dead, up to 140,000 homeless, and raising fears of wider instability in the region as refugees flee the country.

Recent incidents in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia are feeding those concerns.

At least four Myanmar Buddhists were killed in Malaysia in suspected revenge killings by Muslims that began on May 30 in an area on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur where many Myanmar migrants have settled.

In one attack, Yaza Min, a Buddhist, was hit with a steel pipe when he and several fellow workers at a vast vegetable market were targeted in a sudden assault by eight men also armed with machetes.

"I will go back (to Myanmar). I'm very afraid," he said, cowering in a Buddhist temple where he and dozens of others have sought refuge.

In April, eight Buddhist fishermen from Myanmar were beaten to death in an Indonesian detention centre by Rohingyas - a Muslim group that claims heavy persecution in Myanmar - over two alleged rapes blamed on Buddhists.

The violence back in Myanmar has sent fresh waves of Rohingyas fleeing on rickety boats in a perilous journey to neighbouring countries like Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Many fear staying in Myanmar due to a strident anti-Muslim movement that has included a campaign headed by Buddhist monks to shun shops owned by Muslims.

by AsiaOne
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