The Irrawaddy

Ma Ha Na Asked to Judge on Wirathu Sermons

RANGOON — Members of a committee to combat false Buddhist doctrine urged the State Buddhist authority on Tuesday to judge if the actions and speeches of firebrand nationalist monk U Wirathu are “moral” or not.

“We don’t want him to be jailed or ruined, we just want to show that we Buddhists and people do not accept his false doctrine, we want to mend them,” Ko Myat Kyaw, the organizer of the committee, told reporters at a press conference at Tawwin Hninzi Hall in Rangoon on Tuesday.

The committee was formed in March this year by 12 people who sent a petition with over 500 signatures collected in Rangoon’s Dagon (South) Township to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ha Na. It urged Ma Ha Na to judge if U Wirathu’s words and actions were in line with Buddhist teachings.

The committee’s Facebook group currently has over 1,000 members.

Ko Myat Kyaw said the committee would invite new members and continue its petition campaign in Rangoon Division as Ma Ha Na had not replied.

Ma Ha Na has banned U Wirathu, a prominent leader of the ultranationalist Buddhist monk association known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, from delivering sermons across the country for one year starting from March 10, due to engaging in what was deemed religious hate speech.

Though Ma Ha Na said it would take legal action against the monk for any breach of the order, U Wirathu has delivered several silent sermons in different locations, and has not received any reprimand, said Ko Myat Kyaw.

“Our country will become a religious extremist country very soon if we cannot not prevent and take action against those who are immoral and racist and incite hatred,” he said.

In the last week of March, activists launched a petition on the San Francisco-based Change.org website to take action against U Wirathu for delivering inflammatory sermons.

U Swe Win, chief correspondent of Myanmar Now news agency, has also asked Ma Ha Na and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture to take action against U Wirathu for his religious hate speech.

A Rangoon resident also filed a complaint with Dawbon Township Court in April against U Wirathu for saying Burmese women should marry dogs instead of Muslim men, but it was dismissed.

U Wirathu and 10 other Buddhist monks were welcomed by ethnic Arakanese villagers in conflict-torn Maungdaw Township, northern Arakan State, last week.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko