Court Rejects Case Against U Wirathu for Religious Hate Speech

By Htun Htun 4 April 2017

RANGOON — Dawbon Township Court in Rangoon rejected a case filed against ultranationalist monk U Wirathu under Burma’s Penal Code by local resident U Min Hlaing on Tuesday.

U Min Hlaing attempted to prosecute U Wirathu because he encouraged Buddhist women in a sermon in Feb to marry opium addicts, drunkards, monks, and even dogs rather than a Muslim man.

“The court rejected the case because he delivered the sermon in another place, but not in Dawbon Township,” U Min Hlaing told The Irrawaddy. “I’ll do as much as I can in line with the law to prevent him from preaching such things.”

The notorious monk made the inflammatory comments in Kyone Ku, the native village of former President U Thein Sein in Irrawaddy Division’s Ngapudaw Township, on Feb. 9 despite the divisional government’s ban on his sermons.

“If women can’t find a husband, get a dog: canines are as able as Muslim men,” he said to hundreds of his supporters, including women.

His reasoning was that these “husbands” would not try to convert a woman’s religion, whereas a Muslim man might.

U Aye Min Naing acted as a witness to the case because U Wirathu’s preaching was “unacceptable” and “against the Buddha’s teachings.”

“As a Buddhist monk, what he said and shared on social media are shameful for Buddhists,” he said.

The state Buddhist authority State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, popularly known by the Burmese language acronym Ma Ha Na, banned the nationalist monk from delivering sermons across the country for one year starting from March 10, because of his religiously incendiary rhetoric.

Despite the ban, U Wirathu has since delivered several “silent sermons” at which he sat with his mouth covered by two pieces of colored tape while one of his previous sermons played over loudspeakers.

On March 28, Myanmar Now chief correspondent Ko Swe Win asked Ma Ha Na and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture to take action against U Wirathu because of his hate speech.

U Kyaw Myo Shwe, a supporter of U Wirathu filed a complaint with police in Mandalay against Ko Swe Win under Article 66 (d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law for sharing a Myanmar Now story on his Facebook.

The story stated that U Wirathu was no longer in the monkhood as he had thanked the assassins who killed National League for Democracy legal adviser U Ko Ni.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko