Burma

Buddhist Monks Urged to Boycott Myanmar Junta Rice Offerings

By The Irrawaddy 12 May 2022

The Sangha Union in Mandalay has urged Buddhist monks in the city to boycott a junta-organized rice-offering on Saturday and all its other religious events.

The Mandalay authorities are planning to provide rice, cash and other offerings to 10,264 Buddhist monks on May 14, Kason full moon day in the lunar calendar.

U Raja Dhamma, a Sangha Union monk, said: “We are urging monks not to take part. We urge them to boycott all junta events.”

The regime has invited Mandalay’s monks and erected street notices, urging residents to donate.

Donations are meaningless after thousands of murders and torched villages, said U Raja Dhamma.

“I urge monks who live off alms not to accept hollow donations from a regime which tortures and kills people,” he said.

Mandalay residents say the regime is attempting to give an impression of peace and stability and portray itself as the protector of Buddhism.

A veteran journalist from Mandalay, who asked not to be named, said: “Successive military dictators have used religion, saying only they can protect Buddhism and the Burmese. Now this regime cannot control the country as people don’t accept it. But it wants to give an impression that stability has been restored and religious events can be organized.”

The junta tried to organize rice donations to 4,000 Mandalay monks on April 17, Myanmar’s new year’s day. But monks boycotted the event.

U Aggawunsa, a monk leading anti-regime protests in Pyigyitagon Township, said: “Monks can’t accept donations offered by those who have brutally killed and tortured people, robbed and looted their possessions and are stealing public funds. They are trying to hide their sins under the cover of religion. They make donations not because they have faith in religion so it is against Buddhist principles.”

Mandalay has Myanmar’s largest monk population with around 130,000 attending Lent annually before the 2021 coup. The number fell to some 70,000 after the coup.

When a previous regime banned residents’ rice offerings in 1990, Mandalay monks showed solidarity and refused to accept any junta donations.

The Sangha Union has participated in anti-regime protests in Mandalay, where street protests are still common. More than 100 monks were detained in Mandalay for protesting.

However, influential religious figures, like Sitagu Sayadaw, have been condemned for their close ties with regime leader Min Aung Hlaing.

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