Myanmar bans hate speech monk from public sermons

Body overseeing Buddhist clergy says Wirathu delivered hate speech to cause communal strife, hinder efforts in rule of law

Myanmar bans hate speech monk from public sermons

World Bulletin / News Desk

 A firebrand monk notorious for anti-Muslim hate speech has been banned from giving sermons across Myanmar for one year, according to officials Saturday.

The State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, which oversees and regulates the Buddhist clergy in Myanmar, said in a statement that Wirathu was repeatedly delivering hate speech against religions to cause communal strife and hinder efforts in the rule of law, as well as taking sides with political parties to inflame tensions.

Aung San Win, a senior official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, told Anadolu Agency that the ban was decided on Thursday at a meeting of the Committee, better known as Ma Ha Na in its Myanmar acronym.

“The one-year ban starts on Friday,” he said by phone Saturday.

According to the statement, Wirathu may face legal action for any breach of the order.

The move came after Wirathu gave a sermon Wednesday in a small town of Maubin in the Ayeyawaddy division despite a ban by the regional government.

Anadolu Agency was unable to reach the monk for comment.

Wirathu is one of the most vociferous members of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion (better known as Ma Ba Tha in its Myanmar acronym) that has been seen as deliberately stoking the flames of religious hatred against the country's Muslim minority.

With instruction from Wirathu, a Ma Ba Tha member in the country’s second largest city, Mandalay, filed a defamation case on Wednesday against Swe Win, a prominent local journalist.

Swe Win, chief reporter of news outlet Myanmar NOW, had posted on Facebook, “Wirathu is no longer a monk as he transgressed the Parazika rules [or cardinal sins]” -- referring to the monk’s expressed appreciation for suspects in the assassination of a prominent Muslim lawyer.

On Wednesday, Swe Win described the lawsuit as a test for the country’s efforts in rule of law.

“If legal action is taken against myself without any real cause, but not against people who publicly support a criminal act, then it’ll become obvious how this country’s authorities cannot implement the proper rules and regulations,” he said.

Due to the charge under section 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law, Swe Win faces up to three years in prison.

Wirathu had hailed four men accused of orchestrating the murder Ko Ni -- a legal advisor to ruling party National League for Democracy -- for “defending race and religion”.

Ko Ni, 65, was shot in the head at Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29 as he returned from a visit to Indonesia as part of a Myanmar delegation of Muslim leaders and government officials. A taxi driver was also shot dead in the attack.

A gunman, Kyi Lin, was arrested by a group of taxi drivers shortly after the shooting.

He reportedly confessed to being hired by three ex-military officers for almost $60,000 to assassinate Ko Ni.

Police have arrested two more suspects, Aung Win Zaw and Zayar Phyo, but said the main suspect, Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.

In July, the Ma Ha Na said the Ma Ba Tha -- which was instrumental in the previous quasi-civilian government establishing a set of controversial laws involving race and religion -- is an unlawful association under the Sangha rules.

 

Last Mod: 11 Mart 2017, 11:27
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