Religion


Despite somewhat confusing attempts to suspend it, Burma’s Ethnic Youth Conference in Shan State went ahead on Tuesday in Panlong, the historic site of the 1947 peace deal between independence leader Aung San and ethnic rebel groups.

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The leader of Myanmar’s Catholics, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, suggested at an interfaith meeting on Martyrs’ Day that the ministry launch desks for other faiths besides Buddhism.

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The Board of Trustees for Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda told The Irrawaddy on Friday that they received a complaint from a group of Buddhist monks claiming that an on-site vendor was selling religious goods supplied by a non-Buddhist wholesaler, an act which does not violate any existing regulations.

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For the first time in more than three decades, Burma released data on the populations of the country’s different religious groups, based on the results of the 2014 census.

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Several revered Buddhist monks from across Myanmar have spoken out against the nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement, describing it as a minority group, and its actions as divisive and politicised.

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In the face of the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar, ASEAN cannot continue to look the other way, according to political analysts.

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On June 23, an outbreak of mob violence targeting Muslims occurred in Thuye Thamein village in Bago Region’s Waw Township. A Muslim accused of arguing with his neighbour was beaten up by a group of people. His house was ransacked and buildings in the village mosque were also targeted.

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The government has formed a high-level “Emergency Management Central Committee” tasked with preventing and mitigating interreligious violence in Burma, according to a statement from the President’s Office.

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After being detained for over two months for allegedly defaming the country’s top leaders on social media, ultra-nationalist provocateur Nay Myo Wai was discharged by a court in Irrawaddy Division on Friday.

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The mainly stateless Muslim people who identify as Rohingya have been called the most persecuted people in the world – but in the IDP camps and surrounding villages in Rakhine State, where an estimated 140,000 are interred, members of another, often-overlooked Muslim minority are also suffering. The Kaman ethnic group, who say they are ignored by the international community, report facing abuse and discrimination at the hands of the Rohingya, and it seems even those who claim to represent the Kaman politically refuse to stand up for those in the camps.

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Several thousand protesters marched to the Burmese (Myanmar) embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday to denounce the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country.

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It has been a bad week for Muslim-hating misogynist monk U Wirathu. First the vessel for religious hate and discrimination known as Ma Ba Tha, which he has championed as it pushed its hardline nationalist agenda, was disowned by the country’s principal Buddhist authority, the Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.

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After an extraordinary week in which government, military and religious figures rounded on Myanmar’s most notorious Buddhist nationalist group, one of its members now faces potential legal action over an infamous speech denouncing a United Nations representative.

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Extremist Buddhist monk Wirathu could be charged if someone were to complain to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, said Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs Aung Ko, who also criticized Ma Ba Tha for “making problems with other religions.”

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Burma’s leading state-backed cleric organization, Ma Ha Na, has announced that the ultranationalist group Ma Ba Tha is not a “lawful monks’ association” as “it was not formed in accordance with the country’s monastic rules.”

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Burma Army Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing requested soldiers stationed in Arakan State not to practice “extreme activities” while upholding their culture and religion.

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The state Buddhist authority is backing a chief minister’s call to dissolve nationalist group Ma Ba Tha, but will make a final decision during an upcoming quarterly retreat at Maha Pasana Cave, an official said.

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Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha has urged its followers not to stage planned nationwide protests in response to criticism of the organization from the Rangoon Division chief minister, saying that they no longer take his comments seriously.

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The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population will release sensitive census data on Myanmar’s religious make-up on July 21 and plans to make public corresponding figures on ethnic populations within six months, according to a senior ministry official.

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Nationalist marched through the rain yesterday demanding the government reverse a decision to refer to self-identifying Rohingyas as “Muslims in Rakhine State”. The protesters said “Bengali” – officially used by the previous government – must remain the condoned terminology.

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