Nationalists Appeal to Govt to Take Action Against Myanmar Now Correspondent

By Zarni Mann 5 April 2017

MANDALAY – A Mandalay sub-group of nationalist Buddhist association Ma Ba Tha submitted a 8,800-signature petition to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture on Tuesday, requesting the government sue Myanmar Now’s chief correspondent Ko Swe Win.

“[Ko] Swe Win repeatedly insulted U Wirathu,” senior abbot and the general secretary of Mandalay Ma Ba Tha Sayadaw U Kuthala explained at a press conference on Tuesday, referring to Burma’s infamous ultranationalist monk.

“If we don’t stop him, there will be more people like him who will insult the country’s Sasana [religion] and Buddhist monks.”

Last month, Ma Ba Tha follower U Kyaw Myo Shwe filed a lawsuit against Ko Swe Win under controversial Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law, accusing the reporter of insulting U Wirathu in a Facebook post.

Ko Swe Win had shared a Myanmar Now news story that said U Wirathu was no longer in the monkhood as he had thanked the assassins who killed National League for Democracy legal advisor U Ko Ni.

The senior Buddhist monks of Ma Ba Tha told the media that they would take further steps if regional government does not listen their appeal.

“U Wirathu told him [Swe Win] to apologize but he didn’t. Despite an apology, he repeatedly wrote on his Facebook and giving interview to the media that he will not apologize and keep insulting U Wirathu, accusing him of being a criminal,” said Sayadaw U Kuthala.

The case was not taken up by police and Ko Swe Win went on to demand authorities take action against U Wirathu and his hate speech.

Ko Swe Win’s legal adviser U Khin Maung Myint said the government should step in to ensure competing legal action between Ko Swe Win and U Wirathu did not spiral out of control.

Last week, Bhamo Sayadaw Bhaddanta Kumara, chairman of the state Buddhist authority known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ha Na, said that U Wirathu could be imprisoned again if he continues to deliver sermons in defiance of a Ma Ha Na ban.

Ma Ba Tha and other followers continue to stand behind U Wirathu.

“He [U Wirathu] is like a great wall and a great defender of our nation, nationality and religion, he never breaks the law of the monkhood,” said Sayardaw U Kuthala. “We need to stand with U Wirathu for he is a hero of the country’s Sasana.”