Govt Admits Not Doing Anything to Stop Sales of Anti-Muslim Propaganda

Nationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu inspects the injuries of a farmer who was injured during a land dispute in Maupin Township, Irrawaddy Delta last month. (Photo: Jpaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Police forces in areas of Burma hit by communal violence in recent weeks have done nothing to enforce laws against the distribution of extremist propaganda, local police officers and a government official told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The CDs containing “969” propaganda, which are readily available on the streets of many towns and cities in the majority Buddhist country, call on Buddhists to avoid dealing with Muslims in daily life, essentially promoting social apartheid.

Police officers in Insein and Mingaladon townships told The Irrawaddy that they had not arrested anyone or seized any CDs, as they have not received orders to do so.

A police officer in Wundwin Township, Mandalay Division, told The Irrawaddy that some people had been arrested for selling them, but he later changed his tune, saying he had not taken action against anyone.

An officer from Pegu Division police force, where violence erupted in March between Buddhists and Muslims, confirmed that there had been no police crackdown on 969 propaganda materials.

There also appears to be some confusion in central government as to how to deal with the spreading of the materials.

An official from the Ministry of Religious Affairs stressed that the CDs were not officially allowed to be distributed, but the ministry would only act if it received pressure to ban them.

“At the moment, people make copies of the CDs and distribute them on their own. I don’t even know whether it is legal or illegal.”

The 969 movement, widely seen as anti-Muslim, is being promoted by a small number of influential monks, most notably U Wirathu.

The numbers 969 represent the nine attributes of the Lord Buddha, the six attributes of his teachings and the attributes of the monkhood.

A number of Rangoon-based businessmen involved in the distribution of 969 CDs told The Irrawaddy that sales of the CDs have dropped significantly due to the news about the arrest of sellers in Pegu Division, Mandalay Division and elsewhere, where violence between Buddhists and Muslims took place.

“I heard that people in places outside Rangoon didn’t buy 969 CDs at all because they were scared of being arrested,” said a businessman in Rangoon’s Yuzana Plaza. “The sales of those CDs have dropped significantly following the recent riots.

“Even shops in Rangoon dare not sell them any longer. I haven’t heard that anyone has ever been arrested for selling them but I was told that CDs were seized,” he said.

“I haven’t heard of any arrests in our area either, but I don’t sell 969 CDs anymore because of the rumors about such actions,” said Kyaw Zaw Lin, a CD shop owner in Rangoon’s Thingungyun Township.

“I am not sure if the arrest of sellers and the seizure of 969 CDs are carried out as an attempt to prevent further racial and religious unrest,” he added.

18 Responses to Govt Admits Not Doing Anything to Stop Sales of Anti-Muslim Propaganda

  1. If promoting hate is allowed by the law or if there is no law which forbids promoting hate, we still do not have a decent law to protect the citizens from being preyed.

    • Hate speech is allowed in many democratic countries including the US.

    • Yes, hate speech is allowed. The condemnation of hate speech is also allowed. Hate speech in the USA is widely condemned and an employer may fire an employee for hateful speech. Someone who expresses hate is likely to lose their job and is also likely to be rejected by members of the community for that hate. Freedom of speech is very good, because it exposes those who are evil and bad. If the law does not allow freedom of speech, we may not know who is evil and who is good. Speech can hurt, but it is better to hear evil speech than to see hateful people do violence to others such as those who just attacked in Boston or in Afghanistan. If we hear the evil speech, then we can spy on those bad people in an attempt to prevent them from harming, hurting, or killing others.

      • Of course hate speech should be condemned. My point was that it shouldn’t be illegal. Putting people in jail just for listening to hate speech is anti-democratic in my opinion.

  2. I hope Mr. Reformist is aware of this News. Sitting and watching massacre in his country. The monsters are roaming freely. Innocent fishermen paid the price Indonesia. How many more will pay nobody knows. Thousands of Burmese are working in Muslim countries.

  3. What good has the military done in the past 50 years?

  4. Once again, Irrawaddy is calling for censorship of individuals and groups they disagree with. I do not believe in what 969 campaign stands for but they have every right to say what they believe in as long as they’re not advocating violence. You people need a refresher course on what freedom of speech and freedom of press mean.

  5. This is just a friendly suggestion to Irrawaddy. If you want to be a reliable and responsible news organization, please include real names of your sources and if you can’t, please explain why you can’t.

    Otherwise, reporters can write whatever they like quoting anonymous sources, which is, in reality, they made up news reports based on rumors. Looking at his sources in this report — police forces in areas of Burma hit by communal violence, police officers in Insein and Mingaladon townships, a police officer in Wundwin Township, Mandalay Division, an officer from Pegu Division police force and an official from the Ministry of Religious Affairs — the reporter’s accounts can’t be taken seriously.

  6. The Thein Sein government must resign due to the lack of ability to protect the people and also the lack of the rule of law. Sitting in the big ugly buildings in Nay Pyi Taw is not running the country. We have seen enough that Thein Sein and his cabinet members are unable to lead us into the bright future. We just want them to step down.

  7. Present Govt must resign due to failure to protect the citizens of the land and not taking any action against the hate tellers.

  8. Why should they resign. They are not elected but selected by Than Shwe. President speech fooled lot of people. Even wetern counties are ready to give him noble prize. He said he is going to build lot of school for Bengali Kalar. Now agian he said he will do his best to bring harmony and peace in Rakine state between two communities. What a wonderful speech. But on the ground, people, houses, young boys and minorities are burning.

  9. Irrawaddy has never reported about the millions, I repeat the millions of anti-Buddhist and anti-Rakhine and anti-Burmese propaganda and hate speech in the web, purposefully aimed at vilification of Buddhism and Burma in languages spoken or not spoken in Burma. Interestingly much of them has come from England, to be specific London and Birmingham.

    Quoting The Buddhist world must rally around Burma (Myanmar), Posted on May 6th, 2013, by
    Shenali Waduge:

    It was the British that brought Muslims as labor from India (Bangladesh) to Burma and it was on this ground that the Burmese deny citizenship to Rohingyas who cannot show ancestry before 1823 as there were no reference to Rohingyas in the census. The Rohingyas are linguistically related to the Indo-Aryan peoples of India and Bangladesh (as opposed to the mainly Sino-Tibetan languages of Burma).
    Moreover, the term Rohingyas cannot be found in any historical source in any language before the 1950s. The 500,000 Muslims in Burma in 1921 more than half were Indian Muslims. The Indian incursions to Burma were all encouraged by Britain with the purpose intent of creating discord. Riots did result in 1930 because British firms were employing Indians in Burma. Then in 1938 still under British rule was the anti-Muslim riots because of the favoritism which led to a campaign called Burma for Burmese Only. Now the argument is – if the British brought these Rohingyas into Burma to create dissent it is Britain that must provide citizenship to all these Rohingyas in Britain for making their life hell as well as for Burma too. It is time Britain owned up to all its dirty tricks through centuries of manipulations. Why do the mainstream media and international human rights organizations refrain from making these realities known?
    A hallmark of British rule throughout its colonies was selective economic prosperity that has inculcated a breed of colonial servants ever ready to function as sepoys (servants of a foreign occupier working against indigenous people). There are many citizens of post-independent colonies particularly in the Indian sub – continent who mentally prefer to live under white rule still and explains why they are directly and indirectly involved in destabilizing operations promoted and funded by the West, and publicly advocate re- colonization efforts by the latter.

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