U Wirathu Takes to Social Media to Thank Suspects in U Ko Ni’s Murder

By The Irrawaddy 1 March 2017

RANGOON — After Burma’s home affairs minister dismissed suggestions that Buddhist nationalists had played a role in the killing of the ruling National League for Democracy’s legal adviser U Ko Ni, infamous ultranationalist monk U Wirathu thanked those suspected of involvement in the murder.

During the government’s first press conference since the fatal shooting of U Ko Ni outside Yangon International Airport last month, Gen Kyaw Swe of the Home Affairs Ministry was asked whether one of the detained suspects had affiliations with the nationalist monks of Ma Ba Tha, a Burmese acronym for Association for the Protection of Race and Religion.

“How can we say the monks killed him? Our Buddhism never encourages killing. You guys should be considerate,” the home affairs minister told the media.

“I am ashamed of it as a Buddhist, and as a military officer,” he added, referring to the fact that all suspects in the case are Buddhists and three are ex-military officers.

The following day, U Wirathu, a leading Ma Ba Tha monk from Mandalay, posted on his Facebook to say that he thanked all of the suspects identified in the case, and expressed his sympathy for the families of the suspects.

“At this time, I feel relief for the future of Buddhism in my country. If not, the destruction of Buddhism, like in Thailand, would have gained a foothold here in five years,” he wrote.

U Wirathu also said that anyone who wants to do away with the controversial military-drafted 2008 Constitution should consider themselves warned; U Ko Ni had been a strong advocate for the rewriting a new Constitution rather updating the existing one.

“Anyone who wants to kick out military representatives should be mindful. Anyone who wants to scrap the Constitution should be mindful,” he said, adding—but without elaborating—that Burma still requires military lawmakers in the Parliament.