Tuesday 28 September 2021

Myanmar military junta releases vitriolic Buddhist Monk, Ashin Wirathu

Source TheChinDwin, 15 Sept

LE VENERABLE W., (aka THE VENERABLE W.), Ashin Wirathu, 2017. © Les Films du Losange /Courtesy Everett Collection

Yangon (Chindwin): Myanmar's military junta has released Ashin Wirathu, notorious for his hate speech against Muslims, after the sedition charges against Wirathu were dismissed by the junta. The reason why his case is dropped is not given.

The ultranationalist Buddhist monk became prominent in 2012 after sectarian violence broke out between Buddhists and Rohinya Muslims in the state of Rakhine. The release of Wirathu was confirmed by the junta's spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, in an interview with the People Media – an online news site on Sept 07, adding that Wirathu is receiving medical treatment at Tatmadaw [military] hospital.

The fundamentalist Buddhist monk is a mastermind of the 969 movement, founding leaders of the Far-Eastern-origin religion, and openly campaign for anti-Muslim movement instigating hatred against Myanmar's Muslims and Rohingya minority group.

State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee banned 696 for their extremism in 2013. Soon after, Ma Ba Tha, the Protection of Race and Religion organisation, emerged quickly into Myanmar's political scene spotlight. Their objectives are to defend Buddhist Myanmar from alleged Islamization.

Ma Ba Tha key figures were once giving sermons urging their followers not to marry people carrying Islamic faith and boycott Muslim-owned businesses claiming that the country has been under threat by Islamization. Their movement aimed at isolating Muslims and limiting their civil rights.

At one point, Wirathu and his allies were successful in lobbying for laws making interfaith marriages difficult.

Mr Wirathu strongly supported former President Thein Sein's plan to exile Rohinya Muslims from Myanmar and participated in the anti-Muslim rally. He was labelled as the Buddhist Terror by TIME magazine in 2013 and caught global attention.

Controversial though he is, Wirathu has large followers who share his ultra-nationalistic views, not accepting Muslim minorities and limiting their civil rights.

In the past, Wirathu likened State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Gyi as a prostitute and former UN Special envoy to Myanmar as bitch and whore. He turned himself in for arrest in November last year from his hiding. He ran away from public sight since Yangon Region Government brought the charge against him for remarks made in early 2019, which included Aung San Suu Gyi's insults was the de facto leader of Myanmar.

Facebook shuttered Wirathu's account in 2018 owing to his hate speech against Muslims. 

Rumours suggested earlier that Wirathu might not be released even though he is now under the control of the military junta because the plaintiff who brought the case against him to court is not an individual but the regional government. However, Wirathu appears to have a close relationship with the military top brass as all speculations about his fate are wrong. Instead, he is now free and receiving medical treatment in Tatmadaw [military] hospital, which ordinary citizens cannot have such privilege.

Back in May, the anti-Muslim nationalist monk also complained about his treatment in prison under the military junta.

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