Myanmar military releases anti-Muslim monk

YANGON: Myanmar’s junta said on Monday (Sep 6) it had released a firebrand anti-Muslim Buddhist monk jailed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s toppled government on sedition charges.

Ashin Wirathu – once dubbed by Time magazine as the “Buddhist Bin Laden” for his role in stirring up religious hatred in Myanmar – was released after all charges against him were dropped, a statement said.

He was “receiving treatment at a military hospital” it added, without give any details on why he had been hospitalised.

The 53-year-old has long been known for his nationalist anti-Islamic rhetoric – particularly against the stateless Rohingya Muslim community.

In 2017, Myanmar’s highest Buddhist authority banned him from preaching for one year over his tirades.

After the ban expired, however, the pro-military preacher once again became a regular at nationalist rallies, where he accused the government of corruption and fumed against its failed attempts to rewrite the junta-scripted Constitution.

He had been facing charges for attempting to bring “hatred or contempt” and of “exciting disaffection” towards the then-government of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the February coup and a military crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 1,000 people, according to a local monitoring group.

The State Administration Council – as the junta calls itself – last month cancelled the result of November elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has justified his power grab by claiming massive electoral fraud in the polls.

Detained since the coup, Aung San Suu Kyi faces charges including flouting coronavirus restrictions and illegally importing walkie talkies – which could see her jailed for more than a decade.


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