By Aung Aung
Yangon (Rohingya Vision) – The religious extremism in Burma (Myanmar) is on the rise as the country’s chauvinistic section of Buddhist monks in saffron robes held a large rally in Yangon yesterday to celebrate the passage of the much criticized ‘Race and Religious Laws’ stoking religious tensions ahead of the upcoming election in the country.
Thousands of the saffron monks and nuns — from 969 extremist monk group compared with the likes of Neo-Nazi groups — attended the rally held in ‘Thuwanna’ sports stadium in the capital Rangoon on October 4, where they prayed, celebrated and gave speeches on the success of enacting the so-called ‘Protection of Race and Religion Laws’ in the country. The rally was also broadcasted in the State-Owned TV Channels in the country.
‘Ma Ba Tha,’ an umbrella organization under the Anti-Muslim 969 group that pushed the discriminatory and racist laws, called the rally which could increase racial and religious tensions ahead of the country’s thought-to-be first ever free and fair election on November 28.
The laws, widely seen to target women and Muslims and signed into power by the President Thein Sein, include:
- Punishments for the people having more than one spouse
- Punishments for the people having living partners outside their marriages
- Requirements for the Buddhist women to take their parents’ consents and register their marriages in advance if they are to marry people that are non-Buddhists such as Muslims, Christians or Hindus.
In the rally, U Nyannissara known as Sitagu Abbot, one of the leaders of the hardline monk group Ma Ba Tha, said “Ma Ba Tha has tried for many years to establish the laws protecting race, religion, nationalism and country. Hence, today is the day for celebration for the victory.”
Moreover, the legions of the extremist monks gathered at the stadium showed the signs of their increasing political influence in the upcoming election as they sided with the country’s ruling party USDP (Union Development and Solidarity Party) led by the President Thein Sein.
U Wirathu, one of the leaders of MaBaTha, labeled as ‘the Face of Buddhist Terror’ by TIME Magazine, has also viciously attacked the NLD (the National League for Democracy) and the Party’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi regarded as the frontrunner to win the election and openly endorsed the President Thein Sein’s USDP Party. In his interview with Reuters, he said “If the NLD forms the government and if they try to amend the laws, they will have to deal with Ma Ba Tha.”
On the other hand, while NLD is restricted to hold campaigns in certain areas, the MaBaTha is allowed to stage any rallies anywhere at any point of time. Besides, the MaBaTha and 969 groups not only deny the existence ‘Rohingya’ but also has been fully behind in instigating genocidal violence against the country’s Muslim minorities.
All these facts indicated and lead to the point that there are the hands of the Burma’s current ruling pseudo-civilian regime behind these rising extremist monk groups; MaBaTha as well as 969 Groups.
Burmese governments/regimes, during the tough political phases throughout its history, have used racial and religious cards and played with the sentiments of the majority chauvinistic Buddhists targeting the country’s racial and religious minorities to divert their attention from the core issues.
[Edited by M.S. Anwar]
Note: Also quoted Reuters Reports
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