Burma Times: 16 January 2015
Nine men have been charged with murder in Malaysia over the horrific killings of six of their countrymen, which are suspected to be revenge attacks related to ethnic strife back home.
The men, ranging in age from 20 to 44, were charged in the northern state of Penang, but did not enter pleas this week, The Star reported. They face the death penalty if convicted.
Over the past year, around two dozen murder cases involving Myanmar nationals have been reported in Malaysia, mostly in Penang, where public anxiety has risen as severed body parts and decapitated corpses have repeatedly turned up.
Investigators said several of these latest victims were killed in a single Penang house designated for the slaughter. Police believe the attacks are related to violent clashes in Myanmar between members of the Buddhist majority and its population of Rohingya, a Muslim minority.
But authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia have not stated clearly whether the killers were Myanmar Muslims exacting vengeance on Buddhists, as is widely believed.
The violence erupted in 2012 in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, leaving about 200 people dead and up to 140,000, mostly Rohingya, displaced.
With its more developed economy, Malaysia is a sought-after destination for Myanmar refugees and illegal migrants – both Buddhists and Rohingya – many of whom bring along their sectarian grudges. For years, tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled discrimination and repression in Myanmar, where they are viewed as foreigners.