August 18, 2016

Press release on concerning illegally construction of religious edifices in Hpakant

(Following is an unofficial translation of the press release issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture)

Nay Pyi Taw, Aug 3: Four religious buildings including a mosque were built on 0.50 acres of state-owned vacant land in Lebyin Village in Lonkhin Village-tract in Hpakant Township, Kachin State.
2. The land had been transferred to U Ye Maung (Islam) in 1985, by U Khin Maung, the then chairman of the people’s council, now deceased, to build a temporary home and the ownership of the plot as the land defaulted back to being state-owned upon his death.
3. When work on construction of the Uru Creek bridge  started in September 2014, the construction site was fenced to prevent unauthorised access. Engineer U Sonny Thein, being an Islam, used the building as a prayer hall for his religion together with mosque trustees.
4.The buildings include one-storey building with zinc-sheet roof and concrete floor used for a temporary prayer edifice, one storey-building with two rooms, zinc-sheet roof, one two-storey building which was under construction and a temporary shelter with zinc-sheet roof. The four buildings were temporarily used for their religious purpose.
5.The buildings were discovered as religious edifices by the people only when the Uru Bridge was opened on 28-3-2016. Following complaints by Buddhist monks and residents, township authorities reported the case to higher authorities and took actions the case in accordance with the rules and regulations.
6.Regarding the case, local authorities comprising Hpakant Township Administrator held negotiations with two members of the Board of Trustees at 8.30 am on 25-6-2016 and at 2 pm on 28-6-2016, and made decision to take action in accordance with the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Act by the township land management and statistic department, and to bring the case to the court if persons concerned failed to follow the decition.
7. Regarding the decision, the Board of Trustees demolished three extended buildings on the aras of the 0.2 acre of the state-owned land under its own auspices but rejected to demolish the building on 0.30 acre of land according to their faith, claiming that the land it stood on had been privately donated. While legal action is being taken against the case, a mob destroyed the building 3.48 pm on 1-7-2016.
8.The dispute land plot which the mosque was located is currently set as a restricted area in accordance with section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
9. Regarding illegal construction of buildings by different religions, a total of 24 Buddhist monasteries in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area have been cleared as from 20-2-2014 according to the law. Local authorities are also scrutinizing further illegal monasteries and taking actions against them after seeking advices from the State Sangha Maha Nayaka.
10.Similarly, 173 illegal monasteries in Yangon Region, 86 illegal monasteries and other illegal religious edifices in regions and states are currently facing prosecution in accordance with the law.
11. Legal action will be taken against the individual (s) who facilitated illegally the construction of the four religious edifices in Lebyin Village in Lonkhin village-tract in Hpakant Township, and who involved in the mob assault.


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