MANDALAY — Nationalists of a sub-chapter of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion are urging the State Buddhist Sangha authority to reconsider a ban on their group’s name—otherwise known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ba Tha.
The spokesperson of Ma Ba Tha’s Mandalay chapter told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that it is preparing an appeal to the State Buddhist authority—known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ha Na—which banned the group’s name in May and ordered all signboards to be removed by July 15.
“We will send this appeal to the Ma Ha Na office in Yangon tomorrow requesting the senior abbots to reconsider the ban and the removal of the signboards,” said U Yatha, the spokesperson.
The sub-chapter announced on Monday that it would continue to use the name and would not remove the signboards in defiance of the Ma Ha Na orders.
“Since our association [Ma Ba Tha] is not illegal and did nothing that is outlawed, we request the senior Sayadaw to let us continue with [the name]. If the Sayadaw decide to go on with their decision to abolish Ma Ba Tha, we will have to listen and follow them,” said U Yatha.
The spokesperson said they would request a delay of a month or two on the order so that they could still use the signboards during the reconsideration period.
Commenting on reports that the group’s members in Mandalay were planning to resist local authorities and senior monks if they attempted to remove the signboards, U Yatha added, “These are just rumors. We have no plan to act against the decision of the senior monks. If the senior abbots of Ma Ha Na decide we are outlawed, and if they want to arrest us, we have no choice but to respect and follow their decision,” said U Yatha.
After a two-day meeting with members from across the country in late May, the association released an announcement that it would “no longer use [the name] Ma Ba Tha, but would go by the Buddha Dhamma Charity Foundation,” rebranding itself as a charity group.