Nationalist Burma Monks Call NGOs ‘Traitors’ for Opposing Interfaith Marriage

Nationalist Monks Call NGOs ‘Traitors’ for Opposing Interfaith Marriage Bill

Wirathu, women’s rights, Buddhism, Islam, nationalism, rascism, Myanmar, religious conflict, hate speech

Nationalist monk U Wirathu held a rally on Sunday in Rangoon’s North Okkala Township to garner support for his interfaith marriage bill. (Facebook / Wirathu)

A nationalist Buddhist monk movement has called Burmese civil society groups “traitors” because they object to the interfaith marriage bill that the monks have put forth.

The group of monks, also known as the 969 movement or the Association of Protection of Race and Religion (Mabatha), issued a statement on Friday saying that “those activists objecting to the bill are traitors on national affairs.”

The Mandalay-based radical movement said they “condemn those critics, who are backed by foreign groups, for raising the human rights issues and not [working for] the benefit of the public and not [being] loyal to the state.”

In recent months, the 969 movement and its public figurehead U Wirathu have hired lawyers to draft a bill that, if enacted, would require Buddhist women to get permission from parents and government officials before marrying a man from another faith. The bill also calls for non-Buddhist men to convert to Buddhism before marrying Buddhist women.

Other sections of the bill would ban polygamy and include unspecified restrictions enforcing family planning measures.

U Wirathu has repeatedly stated that Burma’s Muslim minority—which represent around 5 percent of the country’s approximately 55 million people—is a threat to Buddhism. He told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the bill would “protect women” from Muslim men and “is not violate the rights of women.” He added that he expected the bill to be released publicly in early June.

The bill is being proposed at a time of heightened inter-religious tensions in Burma. Recurrent outburst of anti-Muslim violence in Arakan State and dozens of cities in Burma have left scores dead and tens of thousands, mostly Muslims, displaced since 2012.

The radical 969 movement stands accused of fanning hate speech against Muslims and has called for Buddhists to shun Muslim-owned shops.

The movement claims to have collected 4 million signatures in a petition campaign in support of the bill in recent months. Neither government leaders nor lawmakers have dared to oppose the political initiative of the Buddhist clergymen, who are deeply revered in Burma.

In March, the monk’s draft was accepted for consideration by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Office, which are preparing the bill for a vote in Parliament.

Burmese civil society groups have grown increasingly concerned about the interfaith marriage bill, also known as the Law on Protection Race and Religion, which would violate basic international human rights standards.

Spearheaded by women’s rights activists, some 130 NGOs signed a statement last week condemning the bill and faith-based political activities and argued that these “events and ideas [are] designed to distract the public before the 2015 election.”

Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, dismissed the 969 movement’s attack on civil society groups. “We are not the traitors to our race or religion,” he said. “We are raising our concerns about some of the worst impacts of the Protection of Race and Religion bill.”

Sein Sein Shwe Latt, a spokesperson of women’s rights group Phan Tee Eain, said civil society groups would send a letter to President Thein Sein requesting a meeting in which they would share their concerns and offer recommendations regarding the interfaith marriage bill.

“The idea is to meet with the president, as well as with leading monks, the respective authorities and the legislators, and to share our suggestions,” she said.

May Sabae Phyu, a coordinator of Gender Equality Network said, the bill needs to be stopped because “it hinders the public’s and especially women’s rights to make a decision on their marriage and [affects] their rights to religious freedom too.”

May Sabae Phy condemned the government’s participation in drafting a bill that would violate the most fundamental human rights if enacted. “It is a very shameful action if we look at in terms of human rights or international standards,” she said.

May Sabae Phy dismissed claims by the monks that they were improving the protection of women’s rights, adding, “By drafting this bill it seems Burmese society is going back to old conservative ages.”

Additional reporting by Nang Seng Nom.


16 Responses to Nationalist Monks Call NGOs ‘Traitors’ for Opposing Interfaith Marriage Bill

  1. Majority Buddhists are supposed to lead us into peaceful Union of Myanmar. Instead, they are about to install hatred and divisions among us. It is so sad that USDP is successfully using Buddhism as their bait to gain power to crush democratic movement in the Union. Monks are free to persuade and teach Buddhists to marry from the same yoke. It also is the teaching in many religions and faiths. But the government has protect freedom of personal choices and freedom of faith. Buddhism used to be different from Fundamentalist form of Islam. Now, Buddhist Sharia law seems in place in Myanmar. Anyway, there are many Buddhists who will oppose extremism. Buddhists can do better and avoid to become bait from USDP.

  2. Here he goes again! U Wirathu…get a life! Why do you always meddle in the affairs of the common people? They have been doing fine till you appeared in their life. Or, they have been doing fine till you came out of jail. Why stir up trouble? To what end? It did not benefit anybody except that you shattered peace and caused lot of bloodshed, burning, killing, hatred and grief on all sides. And now you have embarked on taking away the rights of women in the new Burma, in a renaissance, where Burmese men and women are striving hard to regain their long lost rights. You and your mindless and spurious thoughts and words are directly counter-productive to their causes.

    Leave the peaceful people of the Golden Land alone, they can manage better without you. Go back to zedi for meditation and seek enlightenment from Lord Buddha or a chaung and teach dhamma and mantra (if you know some!) to novices, go on the round with the alms bowl and collect soonn! That’s your job!

  3. What are NGO’s? Who works there? People who don’t have real jobs? Where do they get the money from? Donations?
    I can ask the same questions abut these over-zealous “political monks” who are not abiding by the Theravada rules for the true Sangha.

  4. I won’t support any monk who leads this kind of mundane affair. I may support the idea of the issue if it was led by any person like you and me, but with after deliberation of opinions and views on this subject to protect our sisters and daughters.

    He can call others who don’t agree with him as traitor. Alas, he himself is a TRAITOR of Buddha’s Sangha. I no longer regard him as a Buddhist Monk at all.

    Buddhism in Myanmar is, in deed, largely ruined by egoist monks and corrupt practice of both Government and Opposition (NLD) parties.

  5. True religion has no Rules,Regulations ,Kidnapping and Death Sentences.

    We have to protect not only our girls but also to our boys.

  6. What a nasty piece of work this man is. Who is he to define the rights and wrongs of peoples’ opinions on ‘national affairs’? I’d listen to a civil society coalition, with decades of collective prison time for their principled stance on democracy and human rights, over these dangerous extremists any day of the week.

    With 969, we are witnessing a group intent on dragging the monkhood into politics, and not just any politics: the politics of the intolerant, fascist far right. Anyone who stands up to this misuse of tradition and this butchery of Buddhist philosophy and publicly calls out the sheer nastiness of 969, this movement of the powerful against the weak… anyone who does this is a hero in my book.

  7. The headline is misleading here! Why NGOs?

  8. I am a devout Buddhist, and a writer of letters that include Abhidhamma and samatha-vipassana practices (in both Burmese and English). Nowhere in Buddhism do I come across any prohibition (or control) of interfaith or inter-tribal marriages. Buddhism is a religion that thrives on freedom of thought and equality all round. It is an individual’s choice even to keep moral precepts. The good or bad (thought and) behavior is up to the individual. Remember the Buddha appeared in Mijjhima Desa (India) in the midst of myriad faiths there (Note Sanath or Baranathi).
    Monks are expected to be honest. But by saying that the infamous bill protects women is an outright lie and a blatant insult to injury on the people who differ from them. Those who say so are, in fact, not worthy of trust, not to mention worship by the people. They are the traitors to the Buddhist religion. They have parted with the way of Lord Buddha. I do not know why the president (and his government) and the Assemblies are afraid of those dishonest monks and corrupt people. They are playing a very dangerous game in the hands of crooks and robbers of the public accounts and assets.
    The bill must be defeated, if not in the assemblies, but by way of public opinion. Again the 4 million signatures mentioned are fakes and the lie of those monks and hooligans.

  9. NGO is not a traitor but is a real helper for woman right. Psy wirathu wants to be involved in sex as well as wants to abolish woman right with the reason of promoting his psuedo- Buddhism in Burma.

    Psy wirathu is a traitor against her mother’s right who got married what his mother likes her husband. Therefore, psy wirathu is woman’s mother’s traitor as well as Buddhist terror. Psy wirathu has two TT ( mother’s traitor as well as Buddhist terror).

    Anybody know how and why psy mother marries her husband. Is there any Buddhist monk, broker in between of their marriage?

  10. A lot of these monks are simply young men of few possession, skill and ability living on laity support in the name of religion. Not that very different from the make up of the soldiers manning the most violent and virulent killing machine called Sit-tut. And both are regimented, indoctrinated and easily manipulated.

    On top of that, there are other worrying developments in Burma’s monks’ scene. One they go around to India or in particular to Sri Lanka and come back with such and such degrees which simply make their heads big and their arrogance immeasurable in stead of being contemplative with better understanding of the true religion. But they truly learn to be oh-so haughty and pompous and worse- bellicose and aggressive like their counterparts in Sri Lanka, where the history is replete with “protection of the religion” by repeated and habitual massive killings the last of which happened in 2009. Those monks think the laity is not so obedient enough to them.

    Then the rise of “revolutionary monks” under indoctrination by CIA’s branch National Endowment for Democracy (cute name!) via Gene Sharp of Albert Einstein Institute -stupid name- / ex-American military attache Robert Helvey the brain-washing colonel, and of course the Soros the Jew’s Open Society based joints which can be found everywhere in Burma- with all the “dissident” publications, NLD, scholarships (indoctrination ones) of all sorts, 88 Students group, etc, etc.

    Essentially they have now transformed the true religion of noble Buddhism into sectarian brand name simply by using the name purely based on hatred and violence diametrically opposite to the essence of it. Now attending to those “Leadership Classes” and going about the Lawki affairs with Lawki style, they would now simply be regarded as trouble making parasites to be shooed off the land in near future.

    For the Sit-tut guys, they would simply see these restless, poisonous crowd of young men of ill-intention (regardless of whatever robe they are wearing) as some useful toxin to be used to intimidate the group of people they feel like intimidating and then they can simply get rid of the very same monk guys in a flash with no bother.

    Be ware! Unlike in Sri Lanka, men in robes acting like thugs or thug supporters will be uprooted in Burma one way or other. A-yee-gee’s of Pagan would have been far better.

    Since when what does a girl do with her own body become a concern of anyone else s, let alone these despicable bunch of losers.

  11. A person who is already jailed for his wrong doing at the time he was with monk rope, how can he be again getting rope easily is a question.
    This monk has any ethical value or does he respect real teaching of Buddah. Internationally he is well known for Terrorist movement in Burma ( Myanmar ) and how he duplicating signature who knows. Nationalist have limitation and boundry, if some one is of limit he or she becomes ultra nationalist which will lead to extremist and terrorist. Monk Wiratrhu is in that criterion. Real Buddhiusts will not follow him. As a matter of fact Buddhisim is a philosophy every body has the right to compare some one saying with the real saying of Buddah. Why this monk is always involve in worldy affairs? Is there any one or group of peoples encouraging him to do so against the Buddah’s words. Every one has the right to think and study him whether he is an extra ordinary minded. He comes from which stock of society and family is first and foremost thing to know.

  12. I know Irrawaddy will not add my comments and will censure as usual.
    I just wanted to let people know that U Wirathu may be working closely with SPDC to get what he wants and what the regime wants.
    I am Buddhist and married to Christian wife. We respect each other’s freedom and belief. We have no problem till now after 30 years marriage. We do not ask other to convert to spouse’s religion either.
    This is not possible in Islam religion as spouse has to convert to Islam and all children must be Islam also. If anyone leave the Islam religion, under Sharia, they have to be stoned to death (which is not the case for other religions). http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27424064
    I know we have an issue but the way U Wirathu doing is wrong. we should be able to find another solution instead of dictating all woman’s choice. He should change his name to Ayatollah Wirathu as he not much different from Islamic extremists.
    I hope Irrawaddy is not a bias organization.

  13. “WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT”-

    What U Wirathu had to learn first, and foremost.

  14. He is a monk who has no idea about what is marriage and love between two opposite genders ( Male and Female ). Is it not funny a monk is advising on marriage issue? This is just current Burmese government treachery to divert people minds from DASSK and NLD popularity

  15. Myanma Star Forever

    In Burma’s times of trial the monks have always stood boldly against the oppressors. This is history even long before Burma gained independence. But the NGOs, supposed to be non-political, have suddenly started shouting and rallying with political motives. Are the NGOs keeping their promise of serving without any discrimination to race, color or religion, and stay non-political. Rigorous actions should be taken against the perpetrators, even if at the cost of banning them if they are found to do political rallies.

  16. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote. A majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority, including women.

    The political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities.

    And the smallest minority on earth is the individual.

    We are all born ignorant but ultranationalists, like Wirathu, work very hard to remain stupid.

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