At least five Myanmar pilgrims killed in Hajj
By Ei Ei Thu
September 28, 2015
Five Muslim pilgrims from Myanmar have been confirmed dead and seven remain missing following last week’s stampede disaster near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia that claimed over 700 lives, according to a local Muslim organisation.
|Muslim pilgrims begin the “stoning the devil” ritual on September 25. Photo: EPA|
U Ko Ko Latt, a central executive member of the Myanmar Muslim National Federation, said 3850 local pilgrims travelled to Mecca for the Hajj, including 280 people supported by the Saudi government under a bilateral agreement, as well as those who travelled privately through 41 travel agencies. Three men and two women from Myanmar were confirmed dead, he said.
The Myanmar embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh said it was unable to confirm the figures because it did not keep track of Hajj pilgrims arriving in the country.
The confirmed death toll from the September 24 stampede at a crossroads in Mina has risen to 769, Saudi authorities said on September 26. More than 900 were injured in the crush as two vast columns of pilgrims came together near the site of a ritual known as “stoning the devil”, which has frequently been the most dangerous part of the ritual.
More than 130 Iranians were among the dead and many are still listed as missing. More than a dozen countries have reported the deaths of their nationals. Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of mismanagement and demanded that it take responsibility for the deaths.
U Ko Ko Latt said he hoped that the Saudi government would take responsibility for those killed or missing as a result of the stampede.
“We will meet and ask the Saudi embassy in Myanmar on September 28 about what actions they plan to take as a result of this incident,” he said.
According to the Myanmar Muslim National Federation, two Myanmar pilgrims were killed during a similar stampede at the Hajj in 1990.
The Myanmar embassy in Saudi Arabia told The Myanmar Times that it had no records for pilgrims doing the Hajj.
“None of the travel agencies contact and report to the embassy when they bring pilgrims to the country,” a spokesperson said by email.
Muslims officially comprise 4 percent of Myanmar’s population, but the real proportion is thought to be twice as high. Demand for Hajj pilgrimage packages is very high each year, but Saudi Arabia limits the number of visas it issues to under 4000 a year for security reasons, U Ko Ko Latt said.
He listed the names of the five who had been confirmed to have died as Daw Nwe Aye, 57, and Daw Moe Moe Aung, 34, who traveled with Multi Point Travel and Tours Company; U Kyaw Than, 47, who was on the government-to-government program; Moharmad Shar, 55, and U San Win from Dawei.