In defense of Burmese Buddhists
Posted on October 6th, 2014

by Thar Lon Zawn Htet Courtesy: The Nation ( Sri Lanka)

Interview with Ashin Wirathu

U Wirathu, 45-year-old Buddhist monk from Masoyein Monastery, Mandalay, who has been recently famous for spreading anti-Muslim sentiments and organizing the 969 campaign, was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment for having distributed hate-speech documents that had led to the racial and religious conflicts. He was set free in 2012 January from the Myitkyinar Prison (with the presidential pardon). He led demonstrations for imprisoned monks in March 2012. He also led the demonstrations against the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in October 2012. Thar Lon Zawn Htet interviewed him in 2013, regarding the religious conflicts in Myanmar in that year.
Q:The government announced that the death toll in Meikhtila conflict has reached up to 42. You also went to Meikhtila and tried to halt the rioters, so, why do you think that many people had died there?

Heavy casualties occurred on the second day (March 21), when trapped Muslims, mainly students from a Muslim religious school and a few civilians died. The quarter administration had hidden them and provided necessary securities. When the securities left around 4 am, those hiding Muslims became frenzied, yelling out aloud. So, the mob noticed that they were hiding there, and surrounded them. For them, on their left is a Mosque, right at the burnt area, and opposite to them is a hummock. So, simply there was nowhere for them to escape. While the mob was approaching them, one of them started shooting a monk with the slingshot. That made the Burmese (Buddhists) uncontrollable. As the mob got nearer, they (Muslims) threw the mob with acid bags. Until then, there was no riot – Burmese (Buddhists) were just staring at them and they were throwing with things at the mob. That’s it. I was there in Meikhtila on that day. I got there on 20th night.myself, Min Ko Naing and Shwenyawar Monk were there in Meikhtila then. In that situation, about 20 of them got out from their place and fought with the Burmese mob. Then the casualties occurred. Nine, ten or 11 people died on the spot. During the riot, the security-forces covered and took the rest of them. It was there where many died at one place. The rest was just arson, setting on fire at each other. One person died here, another there.

Q: The United Nation’s Myanmar envoy Mr. Vijay Nambiar and International Press Media say the Meikhtila riot was a planned violence. May I know your opinion regarding that?

Nothing was planned and systematic on the first two days. Actually, those who were systematic were Muslims from Kalar (a derogatory term for Muslims or Indians) Quarter. They had sticks, knives and weapons, and attacked any Burmese they saw. On hearing the news of the death of a monk, the Burmese (Buddhist) mob just went there to the Kalar Quarter, indeed they were unarmed. Only one in ten had a stick taken from the demolished houses, nothing else. As they (Muslims) chopped the mob with knives, two died and about sixteen got injured. So those who systemically planned were from Muslim quarters. Nothing was planned until the second day. It was like The frog dies as it shouts”.

Q:Now the international media use the word Buddhist extremist regarding ‘969’campaign. Could you please explain us the meaning of ‘969’?

All right. The first 9 stands for the 9 attributes of the Lord Buddha, second number 6 for the 6 attributes of the Buddhist teachings and the third 9 stands for the 9 attributes of Sanghas (Monks). So, they stand for the attributes of three Treasures of Buddhism – The Lord Buddha, his teachings and the monk. Like the other symbols of Buddhism such as ‘Buddhan Saranan’, ‘Arahan’ or ‘Dhamma Sekya’, this ‘969’ is also just a Buddhist symbol. Now the blame on ‘969’ as the culprit is just ungrounded accuse, as they cannot prove anyone guilty, they are just accusing. There was not even a paper about ‘969’ in Meikhtila. No one had distributed this there. When I delivered a sermon there, I just distributed only about 25 stickers. Those stickers were meant only to ‘Save Our Future”, that’s it. For that, they are accusing ‘969”. Nothing is related. ‘969’ is indeed attributes of Buddhism. It is innocent.

Q:Muslim houses and mosques in Pegu (Bago) division were destroyed. On the destroyed houses and cars, the logo 969” was written in green (ink). What is your comment on the demolition of mosques and the writing of 969” on the ruins?

I am actually not sure of what exactly has been happening in Pegu (Bago) Division, as I do not have contact with the locals there. In the places where I am controlling and organizing, there is no problem as the process is under my control and it is going accordingly with my vision and mission. I have been dealing with many cases between Burmese (Buddhist) and Muslims. Most of them are rape cases – to the underage Grade 4 and Grade 7 girls. And some cases are like physical fighting and religious assaults – even the cases of abusing the monk, illegal mosques, annexing mosques, and regarding Muslim cemeteries. I have been entrusted for more than 50 cases, and summing up the cases that I am giving advice on the telephone, there are over 1,000 cases. As I am guiding people to handle these legally, even the elder monks and people listen to me. As things are being handled lawfully, there has been no problem in the case that I know of. In our circles or communities, real ‘969’ does not do anything violent.

Q:The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Naypyidaw says that ‘969’ is not a registered or officially accepted Buddhist religious Symbol. We would like to know your view on this.

Yes, we are just distributing with all efforts that we can, with all what we know of. We are not officially registering and distributing that. For instance, someone prepares this, someone makes some financial support, and someone distributes this, so we are not commercializing this by registering at the government or state level.

Q:In your sermon titled Don’t think lightly for our Nationals”, you mentioned Daw Aung San Suu Kyi cannot do anything (for the wellbeing of Burmese Buddhist) and NLD is not Khuddaung” [Fighting Peacock – which is the symbol of the National League for Democracy, NLD] anymore but has become Muddaung” (Muslim Peacock – meaning that NLD is under the influence of Muslims.) Can you elaborate us on that?

I have always supported Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But when the Rakhine incident broke out, (I find that) Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was not reliable. That’s why I assume that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi became silent because of the people around her, who could approach her. And also, in many towns, the persons in charge in NLD offices are Muslims. Because of them, when Burmese (Buddhists) went to the offices, they had to just turn back. In some towns, the house-owners (of the NLD office) are Muslims, and so (the NLD members) dare not even offer food to the monks in occasions such as Martyr’s Day due to the fact that the house-owner didn’t allow them. These are the reasons why I stated Khuddaung has become Muddaung.Regarding Min Ko Naing and the 88 Generations, I expected a lot from them as they are the second most powerful group (in people’s admiration or as the government opposition). But they are also not very much reliable in Rakhine Crisis. As an organization, they did not stand for the people I would say. Some of them personally said something, and had a press conference when they returned from the humanitarian aids trip from Rakhine State, and that was all. No statement was seen declaring that Rohyngyas are not Myanmar ethnics or, condemning the massacre of Rakhines by the Banghalis. So, Min Ko Naing, who has claimed himself as always stands for the Truth or Justice (Damma) and against the Injustice (A-Damma), actually did not stand for the Justice in Rakhine. I pointed out these in my sermons.

Q:In your sermons, you say not to buy from Muslim shops with ‘786’ logos. Doesn’t it make discrimination against religions or races, and wouldn’t it lead to the mistrust and hatred amongst the different societies?

Well, well. This is not the way of we Burmese (Buddhists). It is their Muslim’s way. They do practice that. You go around the city and look for that, how many Muslims are good customers of the Burmese (Buddhists)? If they buy only from Muslims themselves, we should also do the same. Let’s say, if we had bought only from each other, we would not have experienced such assaults. Even if there are some little disputes, it may not be worse than that, may not lead do such crises at the National level. Now, we didn’t buy from the gold shop owned by us (Burmese Buddhist) and we were insulted as a consequence. Such insults lead problems in the national level. So it is not discrimination, but it is only protection of our people.

Q:Now the riots and crises have spread, and both communities have had their fears and concerns. What would you suggest to eradicate these?
I am always suggesting for these. Since I was released from the prison, I have been advising the Muslim community, until now, even last night. We need to work together to solve these problems. Muslims need to organize the leader groups, and so we Burmese (Buddhists). In case of any problems, these leaders should take prompt and severe actions for their own community. If the action has been taken and yet the other side still goes on with the violence, each side need to stand before their people and try to solve the problems. In this the whole world will be peaceful.

Q:In the president’s speech yesterday on the recent Meihktila Crisis, he mentioned that necessary actions would be taken for those who are utilizing the religion as a tool, and misguiding people to the extremes, and leading to the hatred growth between peoples of different creeds. I would like to know your opinion on that.

Yes, serious actions need to be taken. Rather than the prominent activists, it will be more effective to take actions to those who are trying to divide people with propagandas. For instance, Mawlawis (Islamic religious teachers or leaders). They are teaching children, and they instill hatred in children. The way Muslim children look at the monks is like as if we are their enemies. The way they look at Burmese (Buddhists) is as if we are their enemies.
So, such people who are brainwashing children and dividing people need to be revealed, and serious actions should be imposed.

The Irrawaddy, Myanmar

Courtesy: The Nation ( Sri Lanka)

8 Responses to “In defense of Burmese Buddhists”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    Any one who preaches and advocate violence against any other religion need to punished and kept away from society unless they change their ways. It does not mean that one can not criticize or comment about the wrongs doings in the name of religion. How many Muslims who spread violence or promote hatred against Buddhists have been jailed or punished?They do it all the time including in Europe.Muslims need to look at themselves, and change with times without sticking to Medieval ways but enjoy all the modern amenities. Why is that there are problems in most countries where Muslim live, including in the Islamic countries between the different sects. Are there countries called Buddhist countries with Buddhist laws?

  2. HanMg Says:

    The ‘969 Movement’ of Ven. Ashin Wirathu of Myanmar have been widely misunderstood and demonized by the western media. The three digits of 969 symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community. The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha and the 6 for the six special attributes of his Dharma, or Buddhist Teachings, and the last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha [monks]. Those special attributes are the Three Jewels of the Buddha.

    In the same context, across South Asia, Muslims represent the phrase “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful” with the number 786, and businesses display the number to indicate that they are Muslim-owned.

    Compassion is engrained in Buddhism for all living things. In contrast, there is no universal love or compassion under Islam; not even for fellow human beings. For dedicated Muslims, there are only two possible situations to be in: (1) fighting unbelievers, and (2) pretending to be peaceful while preparing to fight unbelievers. Either way, conquering the world in the name of Allah is always the goal. MOST OF ISLAM IS BASED ON “INFIDEL-PHOBIA”. Islam devotes a great amount of energy to the kafir or infidel (non believers). Not only is the majority (64%) of the Koran devoted to the kafir, but also nearly all of the Sira (81%) deals with Mohammed’s struggle with them. The Hadith (Traditions) devotes 32% of the text to kafirs.

    Therefore, the peace and stability of any non Muslim people or country/city in contact with Muslims are at risk of jihadi terror. Below is an article that explains in summary the role Islam plays in worldwide terrorism. Though it was written specifically for Myanmar, it could be any non-muslim country such as SL.

    As explained in the article, jihad as commanded in Quran is not confined to terrorism and warfare but also include rape, infiltration (rapid breeding) and deception in various forms. Also, note the various stages of jihad being deployed by muslims.

    Note various terminology and doctrines taught in the Quran: “dar el-salaam” (the abode of peace), “dar el-harb” (the abode of war), al taqiyya (lying to lie to protect one’s self from persecution, emotional harm or physical harm, real or perceived) and kitman (to spread misinformation – especially to benefit Islam and to aid its spread). One cannot take a Muslim on his oath, because Muslims can break any agreement with anyone at any time they choose to do so just based on one’s perception of what is “better” for Islam.

    Since all Muslims anywhere MUST engage in jihad THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MODERATE ISLAM. Making non-Muslims think that there is a moderate Islam is the ultimate taqiyah. Taqiyah is what Muslims do to keep non-Muslims in the sedated state. Non-Muslims are not even aware that they are under attack. Falling into this trap is deadly. It may cost your liberty and your life.

    It is time for predominantly Buddhist nations to form an international organization such as ORGANIZATION OF BUDDHIST NATIONS (OBN) not only to counter the threat from Muslim fundamentalism and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) but also to have a united voice in world affairs.

  3. AnuD Says:

    Dingiri Banadara:

    Read Quran and the Old Testament and see how violence is preached in those books.

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    Both books the Bible and the Koran should be put on a international commission of investigation to spell out the violence they preach. This is the only way they can be cleansed of the violence they instigate against humanity. We cannot rely on politicians who say Abrahamic religions are a peaceful. Facts on the ground around the world speak for themselves. Those who say such lies are hypocrites and charlatans for all what they do around the world is death, deceit and more death. One cannot selectively pick and choose verses from a ‘holy book’ to portray it as a work of innocence, peace and love. It is either the whole or none at all. This is unless the religious leaders come to an agreement to do away with the unholy edicts.

  5. Nimal Says:

    I think all religions are being manipulated to control people,some by politicians and the by the clergy and should be rejected by the people.The countries that have ignored their faith and patronized the pubs and wine bars seems to be sincere and these countries progress as well and they unknowingly follow the true essence of the religions that are going around.They clearly practice honesty,tolerance,kindness,charity which is very much lacking in the non Western countries.I am sure you people are writing a lot of nonsense while living in the comfort of the white man’s country.Come here to Sri Lanka and I will point out how hopeless the situation here is and the religions are to be blamed sor the sorry situation.
    I think all religions should be banned,strangely as a capitalist I believe what Carl Max said about a religion.He said religion of the opium of the masses and how true?
    Here the hypocrites will use Sunday or Poya days to avoid work but when they go abroad,the real world they have to work when ever they are required to work.We have a severe work ethic problem in the island and the religions that one practices is one of the main culprits and to do away with it is highly advisable.

  6. Nimal Says:

    Sorry what I meant is that religion is the opium of the masses.

  7. Nanda Says:

    “living in the comfort of the white man’s country” – White man’s countries are in trouble now.

    China , Singapore are not white man’s countries and they have excellent work ethics. If you have worked with Singaporeans you will know how much better they are ( and productive) compared to White man in Australia and Canada and UK. Their ethics are based on Buddhist and Confucius principles.

    I agree our problems you mentioned. our buggers mostly go to work to spend time and earn salary. But we still have those people who value honesty , integrity and do their job perfectly. At least I know one man who was kicked out two years ago from a very high government position for being truthful who works few times harder than even hardworking Singaporeans.
    There is no other religion than Buddhism to correct our corrupted society. It is corrupted not because of Buddhism but because of Kalu Suddas and thieves.

  8. Nimal Says:

    I have a connection with Singapore but they are the most missarable people on this planet,always happy to get out compare that to Malaysia and Batam,very pleasant to live.HK is another missarable place.People in Aus too loud and laid back but still an advance country where law and order is good as any western country,not forgetting the good educational and health facilities.Politicans resigns if found out doing the wrong must agree that there is a sense of justice and fair play in Aus,the reason people want to migrate there,but I wouldn’t as UK is one of the best places to live,and we must inculcate the best of these countries in our humble country where the people feel secured and contented.
    over the last decades we have been ruined by our politicians and the religious pertinacity and it will take decades to put them back to normal.Our people are so humbled and ‘corrupted’ by our leaders (of any political party) people are immune d to their wrong doings as they themselves are immersed in that corruption.The old Sinhalese saying is that the dog who lives in the blacksmith’s work house never minds the loud thunder outside.It’s the people like me who remember the colonial times and the people who lives in the west knows the difference.Not all Sri Lankans assimilate like me with the Suddas and they have proved that they are the best friends you have in life.Most racist ones are the best,once made friends become the lifelong,as I do.
    Here is an good example of it.There was a white bigoted man who was a high official of a racist party where he could not stop insulting coloured people whenever he met but one day he came for a plumbing job to my company thinking it was a white man’s company.From the time he came he couldn’t stop insulting my foreign staff from EU.After his work I encountered him and had a few word or two without insulting him,how they had a glorious Empire and without us they are in a bad shape now.In his little brain he figured it out and we became good friends.when the Sri Lankan HC under General Artigalle was having problems with building regulations in the process of refurbishment of the High commission where the work was substandard,I had to ask my friend to help them out and this guy, name Dennis to work at a cost to him,pitied our Sri Lanka workers from the villagers and trained them and worked with them to a successful conclusion.During their end of their term Dennis bought them cloths,rice cookers,Mirowaves and even a fridge at his expense and shipped them to SL.But non of those buggers ever wrote and thanked them.Only word he learned from our officials is’Heta’ as they seems to but back every event or appointment.I can tell thousands of similar incidents that is heart warming.I know that I live in a bigoted country where some are truly ignorant but with tact they can be changed to accommodate us and accept us.I tell you how stupid we acted.When the tigers were having the upper hand where operations going badly,to get the attention and the help of the IC we got the HC to help us to promote the event very close to the Parliament where we invited the most important people we could have used to help our country in the hour of our need but how stupidly did the HC staff reacted to the situation?
    They bought all the pictures of the naked women in Sygriya,the ,and some references to our ‘glorious’ history.They should have bought the pictures of the bombing of the sacred places,murder of the president,massacres of the poor villages but were arrogant and stupid enough to glorify our past.People in UK are serious and very busy to spend their valuable lunch time or spare time to visit us to see things that are not relevant.This is the mindset the people are trapped in.
    I must say that all my promotions to dizzy heights among the Sudas were initiated in the pub because my superiors put in an artificial barrier in office where they have doubts and apprehensive about a foreigner like me but I was clever enough to make them open their mind after a drink or two where they relax from the usual prejudices and my colleagues too agree with my boss that I need a promotion as we are now mates.So pub has some positive effect on the most hardened people and that goes to my bank managers who trust me to give the most favorable financial facilities to expand and sky is the limit though I have my limit.I have never licked their boots to get what I want but with mutual respect that I strived.
    I suggest that our country be turned in to a serious place and to stop these religious idiots into the country,that will be to our utter disaster and folly.
    These guys will inflame the country where Muslims and Budhists will kill each other then the Tamils will join in too.western powers will exploit the situation as we have over 50 billion barrels of oil in the Mannar basin.They will divide the country and the separatist diaspora will get the area with the oil where the proceeds of the oil will be invested in the west to prop up their economies.this is a new type of colonialism that is going around.Not only the oil but incomes of our gross national products that is been already been siphoned by our past and present politicians.We are been warned.

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