“The (March 20th 2013) incident destroyed our mutual trust; so we are working together with Buddhist leaders to rebuild it since after the violence,” said San Win Shein, a Muslim community leader in Meiktila, who is joint-secretary of the town’s inter-faith association formed by the government after the violence. However, community leaders described the radical Buddhist faction as “a major threat” to their effort to maintain stability and harmony between communities.
Withodda, a Buddhist monk in Meiktila, is famous for his effort to save around 800 Muslims during the 2013 violence. Despite the threat from the Buddhist rioters, he let Muslims take refuge in his monastery. “Like Buddhists, followers of other religions should also enjoy their rights,” he said, pointing out to recent reports of authorities imposing limits on the places of worships on Christians and Muslims. Moreover, a recent order by the township administrative office banned the prayer service at non-religious buildings, raising concerns regarding further restrictions in the month leading up to Ramadan.