Yangon Sangha Council Cancels Meeting with Firebrand Monk

By The Irrawaddy 29 May 2019

YANGON—The Yangon Region Sangha (Clerical) Council has postponed a scheduled meeting with ultranationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu, who is currently the subject of an arrest warrant, at the last minute, according to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.

The regional Sangha Council had summoned U Wirathu to its office to warn him against getting involved in secular affairs. The meeting was initially scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday.

In a letter to the monk dated May 22, the council said the state clerical authority, the State Sangha Maha Nayaka, had instructed it to summon him over recent comments he made at a rally in downtown Yangon held to oppose efforts to amend Article 59(f) of the Constitution and calling for Article 261 to be amended.

The ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon that the regional Sangha council postponed the meeting “under present circumstances”. The council couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday evening.

U Wirathu told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday morning that he was in Yangon to attend the meeting with the Yangon Sangha Council members.

Yangon’s Western District Court has issued an arrest warrant for U Wirathu under Article 124(a), which covers crimes of sedition. If prosecuted under the article, he faces seven to 20 years in prison, or a fine.

The warrant was issued in the wake of recent comments by the religious affairs minister that the monk would be prosecuted for making personal and obscene remarks about State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Long before his verbal attacks on the State Counselor, the monk was known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and fanning of racial and communal tensions between Buddhists and Muslims across the country.

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