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Myanmar‬ government legalize anti-Muslim genocidal racism and campaigns

Myanmar‬ government legalize anti-Muslim genocidal racism and campaigns 


This week our current affairs program examines the following topics: 

1) the rapid growth and the rise in the social power of the Ma-Ba-Tha in Myanmar;
2) the question as to whether President Thein Sein and the state's sole governing body of the Buddhist Order - Sanga Maha Nayaka - are in effect recognizing the new league; and 
3) who really is supporting and backing this defense league.

This analysis is presented by U Sithu Aung Myint (STAM) with the assistance from Daw Ingyin Naing (DIN) (of the VOA Burmese).

U Sithu Aung Myint: On 12 and 13 May, the Sangha Maha Nayaka convened a general meeting of all Buddhist sects, which it had not held for 20 years. While the preparations for the meeting were underway one curious development took place: on 8 May, the patron abbots of the Sangha Maha Nayaka publicly received the leading and executive monks from the Race and Faith Defense League or RFDL and offered the latter words of advice and guidance. 

One reason this development is rather curious is this: under the rules and regulations or policies of the Sangha governing body, adopted 30 years ago, the Sangha Maha Nayaka is recognized as the sole official national Sangha organization. So, the fact that the governing body of the Buddhist Order reportedly met with the new RFDL really is noteworthy - and indeed curious. 

We begin by discussing the birth and rise of RFDL, its activities, who are the behind-the-scenes key players, and whether the rumors that there is considerable involvement (from the powers that be) in the RFDL. 

Daw Ingyin Naing: As all of us the Burmese know 2012 saw the birth and rise of the campaign to mobilize Buddhism under the banner of 969. Last year two major RFDL offices, central headquarters and the main branch (Upper Burma), were established in Rangoon and Mandalay. Subsequently, we also saw the formation of township level RFDL organizations. The main objective of the RFDL is to push for the emergence of a (National) Law in defense of Buddhist Race and Faith in Burma. Towards that end, these organizations held public forums and launched signature campaigns throughout the country. 

Rev. Wirathu of Mandalay's new Ma-soe-yein monastery, one of the most prominent monks from the RFDL, began to promote the political message coupling the need for the National Defese of Faith and Race Law and opposition against a Constitutional amendment of Article 59 (F), which bars Daw ASSK from running for president. His twofold message 'Support Race and Faith Defense Law, Oppose the amendment of Article 59 (F)' has caused widespread suspicions among the Burmese public as to whether the RFDL has a (hidden) political aim, who is supporting and backing the RFDL, its message and activities. However, the leading monks from the RFDL deny that their campaign is purely for the defense of race and faith and they have nothing to do with politics. 

U Sithu Aung Myint: Recently, the President of the RFDL, namely Rev. Ti-Law-Ka Bi-Wun-Tha from Insein Ywama, Rangoon, wrote to President Thein Sein urging the President to enact 4 new bills including the 'National Defense of Race and Faith'. The letter was sent to the President along with the signed petitions. All previous military governments as well as the present quasi-civilian government of ex-General and President Thein Sein had never recognized any Sangha or monk organizations other than the official Sangha Maha Nayaka organization. According to the policies and regulations of this Sangha governing body, the RFDL is not yet a lawful monks' organization. 

However, what is perplexing is President Thein Sein not only announced to the nation the receipt of the written request from RFDL for the enactment of 4 new laws including National Defense of Race and Faith but he has also referred the matter to Thura Shwe Mann, the Speaker of the Lower House (and Chairman of the ruling USDP Party). 

Even more perplexing is this: Speaker of the Parliament Shwe Mann opted NOT to have any parliamentary discussion as to whether the monks' request for the enactment of the 4 new laws re: race and faith defense merits any serious consideration or which of the four should be tabled and which should be rejected. Instead the Speaker decided to refer the matter back to the Executive Branch (of President Thein Sein) and asking the latter to draft all 4 bills as urged by the RFDL. In effect, what this all amounts to is in clear violation of the existing policies and regulations governing the affairs of the Buddhist Order, both President Thein Sein and Speaker Shwe Mann have not only effectively recognized (the legality of) the RFDL but these two senior most leaders of the country have reached an instant agreement to enact the 4 laws as urged by the Race and Faith Defense League. 

Daw Ingyin Naing: There is one more important move (by the government and its leaders). That is, the Minister for Religious Affairs ex-general Hsan Hsint had intervened to make the sole Sangha governing body to confer on the Race and Faith Defense League instant official recognition. Hsan Hsint had justified his intervention by stating that of the 3 utmost duties of the Sangha or Buddhist Order - namely, purity, maintenance and promulgation of the (Buddhist) faith - the Race and Face Defense League is carrying out the two duties - maintenance and promulgation, thereby officially making the RDFL a monks' organization independent of the Sangha's official governing body. This is the very first time such development - the creation of an independent and separate monks' organization - has taken place. 

U Sithu Aung Myint: Meanwhile, the two leading Ma-Ba-Tha monks from Mandalay Division, Rev. Eida Sakka Biwun and joint secretary Rev. Ya-tha, signed the official RFDL statement declaring over 100 Burmese civil society organizations to be 'national traitors'. The reason for this 'national traitors' designation is that these listed organizations have aired their public objection against President Thein Sein ordering the drafting of the National Defense of Race and Faith bill. 

Likewise, the Esteemed Rev. Badanda Pyinya Nanda and another Esteemed Rev, Dharma Pee Ya Lankaya, Saggaing RDFL's Chair-Monk and a member of the Executive Committee respectively, have signed the statement declaring many civil society organizations to be "lice from inside the flesh" (or a-thar htae ga lauk mya'). 

Furthermore, some of the RFDL monks from Shan State RFDL and Mandalay Division RFDL have began agitating against investment from Muslim countries and urging the public to boycott Oredoo Telecommunications - (one of two telecom giants which won the bid to build telecom infrastructure and services in Burma; the other is Norway's Telenor). 

Finally, Rev. Par-mauk-hka of the Ma-gwe Monastery who is with the Race and Faith Defense League (Central headquarters) is saying that he will be doing a petition drive to get the voting rights of Buddhist monks and sending petitions, to President Thein Sein to urge the latter to oblige the monks' request. 

Examining these developments, the direction of the Race and Faith Defense League, the nature of its activities have become more obvious. Additionally, the clouds of opaqueness as to who is backing and supporting this Race and Faith Defense League have gone: President Thein Sein, Speaker Shwe Mann and Minister of Religious Affairs Hsan Hsint themselves stand firmly behind the Ma-Ba-Tha. 

This is all from us this week.

Current Affairs/(Burma's) Domestic News Analysis
19 May 2014

(unofficial translation by Zarni)

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