A court in Myanmar has charged six Muslims with the murder of a Buddhist monk and they could face the death penalty.
On Tuesday, Ye Aung Myint, the chief justice of the Mandalay region in central Myanmar, said the final verdict is expected on Friday, AFP reported.
“If they’re found guilty of murder, they will be sentenced to death,” he added.
He went on to say that the six Muslims are a 20-year-old man and five other accomplices.
In late March, 43 people were killed and 12,000 were displaced after extremist Buddhists launched attacks against Muslims in the town of Meiktila, which is located in central Myanmar.
The sectarian strife, which lasted for several days, was reportedly triggered by an argument in a gold shop. Soon after the argument, a monk was killed and his death provoked the violence.
The violence that originally targeted Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar is beginning to spread to other parts of the country, where Muslims who have been granted citizenship are now being attacked, according to the website burmamuslims.org.
About 800,000 Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.
Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years.
Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists.
The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar army forces allegedly provide the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee.
Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmar military for its persecution of the Rohingyas.
Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists.