Asia

Jail terms for Muslim-Buddhist violence in Burma's Meiktila

Muslim refugees
Image caption Muslim refugees fled Meiktila after attacks on mosques and houses

A court in Burma has sentenced 23 people to prison terms for their role in violence between Buddhists and Muslims.

At least 40 people were killed in the violence in the central town of Meiktila, including pupils massacred at an Islamic boarding school.

Twelve mosques were damaged during the attacks.

The violence spread to central regions in March after breaking out in western Rakhine state in 2012.

The 23 men convicted in the latest case were charged with murder, assault and arson.

Gangs of young men, armed with sticks and machetes, rampaged through the streets of Meiktila on 20 and 21 March.

Their attacks followed a violent incident at a Muslim-owned gold shop in the town.

Muslim bodies

At least 10 Muslims have already been sentenced for their role in the violence, including the killing of a Buddhist monk.

Officials have not made clear how many Muslims were convicted during the latest trial, but local newspaper reports say the majority of those arrested have been Buddhists.

The police have been accused by Muslims of failing to defend them in many of the attacks, which later spread closer to the country's former capital, Rangoon.

Some Muslim countries have called on the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to do more to defend Muslims in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said that Burma was having a honeymoon with the world at the moment, following political reform and an economic opening, but it said the honeymoon was built on the bodies of Muslim victims.