Religion


Nationalist Buddhist monks from Ma Ba Tha are holding large-scale religious conversion ceremonies in Muslim enclaves, drawing criticism from local residents.

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A court in Irrawaddy Division’s Kangyidaunt Township on Thursday accepted a lawsuit filed against ultra-nationalist politician Nay Myo Wai for allegedly defaming the president, army chief and state counselor on social media.

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A Law to protect religious harmony is being considered by the new government following failed attempts to pass such a bill in the previous parliament, which instead enacted controversial legislation seen as undermining religious freedoms.

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A court in Pyin Oo Lwin District on Thursday dropped the remaining charges against U Eindaka, the abbot of the Yay Pu Monastery in Mandalay Division’s Mogok Township, after the lawsuit against him was withdrawn.

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Signs of a vibrant Hindu community are everywhere in downtown Yangon; ornate temples peer out from between the tenements, and periodic festivals enliven the streets with rhythmic music, colourful costumes and offerings of sweet masala chai. With their roots in several waves of Indian migration during the British colonial era, Myanmar’s Hindus are thoroughly a part of the country’s intricate cultural fabric.

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A court here has ordered U Eindaka from Mandalay Division’s Mogok Township to pay a 20,000 kyats fine (US$17) or spend three months in prison under Burma’s Forestry Law, with the fine paid by his supporters following the verdict on Wednesday.

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Some 400 nationalists gathered in Mandalay on Friday to demand that the government officially denounce, within three days, the US Embassy’s use of the term “Rohingya.”
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A prominent nationalist Buddhist monk has said the Ma Ba Tha movement has no plans to pressure the government over the recent arrest of a nationalist provocateur on defamation charges, but he warned that authorities should tread carefully when dealing with the movement.
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Unresolved religious tensions in Karen State could affect national peace, stability and reconciliation, according to Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Aung Ko, who was referring to one monk’s recent spree of pagoda-building on other faiths’ lands.
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Burma Campaign UK has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Zaw Zaw Latt, Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Win Bo, and urged the Myanmar government to reform the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee and to ensure their release and all remaining political prisoners.
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Over 100 community leaders from different religions nationwide participated in a three-day forum on “Interfaith Understanding and Peace Advocacy” in Rangoon this week to reduce interreligious tension in Burma.
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Ashin Nyar Na has spent nearly 16 years in jail for unorthodox beliefs that have angered the powerful supreme body representing Buddhist monks in Myanmar.  (more…)

A court in Mandalay Division’s Maha Aung Myay Township on Tuesday sentenced Nyi Nyi Lwin, a leader of Burma’s 2007 Saffron Revolution who is better known as U Gambira, to six months in prison with labor on a controversial immigration charge.
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A Buddhist monk and spiritual leader of an ethnic armed group stoked religious tensions last week when he and his followers built a pagoda on the property of an Anglican Church in Hlaingbwe Township, at Kondawgyi village in Karen State.
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Myanmar’s new government released scores of jailed activists on Friday, just over a week after assuming power, and said it was preparing to pardon 100 more people serving sentences for political offences.
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Amid news of charges being cleared against political detainees, in a court in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township, two Muslim interfaith activists were sentenced to two more years in prison—with labor—on Friday for allegedly associating with unlawful organizations.
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This year it is Mandalay that has broken the bounds of all reason or responsibility by threatening to imprison women who appear in outfits deemed too skimpy during water festival.
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Burma’s long-established ethnic Karen armed organization, the Karen National Union (KNU), has been preparing land and shelter for the possible return of civilians displaced internally and on the Thai-Burma border after more than six decades of civil war with government forces.
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Burma, once isolated regionally and globally, is rapidly opening up with ongoing political reforms. Foreign affairs representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in particular are now anticipating a relationship with a new Burmese counterpart. Yet she is no stranger to them: the foreign minister is also the country’s charismatic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
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Myanmar’s former president Thein Sein has shed his formal attire and his hair to join the Buddhist monkhood.
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