They have seen how trouble starts from the smallest things. They have seen the police powerless before mobs fired with religious zeal and armed with bricks and swords. They have seen on TV and in newspapers the burning homes of people just like them light up the night. And so they have erected rusted barbed-wire barricades and volunteered to sit on street corners, 10 men at time, watching through the night.
Fear courses through the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, especially among its Muslim minority. They have watched as the sectarian violence threatening to destabilize the country’s fragile democracy creeps closer to home. With little faith in the government’s ability to protect them and a growing movement of Buddhist extremism, some feel they have little choice but to try to defend themselves.
Residents in some neighborhoods have started their own patrols.