Myanmar Junta Drops Sedition Case Against Firebrand Ultranationalist Monk

By The Irrawaddy 7 September 2021

U Wirathu, an ultranationalist monk who has been in custody since November last year on a sedition charge, walked free on Monday after the case against him was dropped, according to a military regime spokesman.

“When we asked the concerned authorities they told me that his trial was held via videoconference at the court today, and the Yangon regional government dropped the charge. He was released this evening,” Major General Zaw Min Tun said on Monday.

In May 2019, the then Yangon regional government of the since-ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) filed a sedition case against U Wirathu for attempting to incite disaffection against State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD government. The monk was on the run for over a year before turning himself in to police in November last year.

He had since been detained at Insein Prison in Yangon, and remained in detention even after the military regime released notorious nationalists facing the same charge, like U Hla Swe, U Htay Aung and Michael Kyaw Myint, after its Feb. 1 coup.

The monk’s release comes after video spread on social media last month in which he complained about his continued detention and accused the State Administration Council, the governing body of the military regime, of trying to destroy his sanity.

In the video, which was reportedly recorded in May, he says: “The NLD government detained and degraded and persecuted a monk. The SAC is doing the same things, but is also driving a monk crazy. After U Hla Swe was granted bail, I thought it was my turn next week. But I was remanded instead.”

He has been receiving treatment at a military hospital since May after one of his arms was paralyzed.

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