A U.S-based rights group called on Burma Friday to investigate a reported massacre of more than two dozen Muslim students at a boarding school in Meikhtila city in recent sectarian violence.
The U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said in a statement that local families and community leaders had given them the names of 32 male students and four teachers who remain missing and are feared dead following an alleged attack on the Mingalar Zayone Islamic school on the night of March 20.
Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims erupted at a jewelry shop in the city earlier that day, sparking more than a week of deadly communal violence that prompted a state of emergency in several townships in central Burma.
State media have reported that 43 people died and thousands were left homeless in the violence, which saw some 1,300 buildings destroyed, including 37 mosques.
PHR, which has staff members in Mandalay city near Meikhtila, said some of the 32 missing students, who were between the ages of 18 to 24, have reportedly been identified in photographs of dead bodies taken in Meikhtila in the aftermath of the clashes.
Parents of the missing students, as well as other families, have demanded that they receive the bodies of their dead but have met with refusals by government officials, PHR said.
Boys who survived the alleged attack at Mingalar Zayone were held for 48 hours at a police detention center following the incident, according to the group.
PHR urged the Burmese government to “act urgently to halt anti-Muslim incitement” and to invite international investigators to probe the incident.
The call followed a fire at a mosque and religious school in Rangoon on Tuesday that left 13 Muslim children dead.
State media reported on Wednesday that Burma launched a seven-member commission to investigate the fire, which local officials said was caused by an electrical problem and was “not due to any criminal activity.
The U.S. and EU have called for a “thorough and transparent” investigation into the cause of the blaze.
Reported by RFA's Burmese Service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.