Burma Times Desk Report: January 16, 2015
The serene movement, the saffron coloured robes and their soft looking expressions, Buddhist monks have long been an icon for peace and piety. But not these people. As they strive haughtily across the police house, only the saffron coloured robes are a reminder that they are representatives of this much respected religion. For the country’s Muslims, they have become a symbol of misery, rape and death.
Alongside the 969 movement, the Ma Ba Tha movement has emerged as one of the country’s most powerful political movement that espouses a very militant form of Buddhism. Their influence in current day Burma is unprecedented.
Today they are here in the police station to accept the unconditional surrender of Htin Lin Oo, the former information officer of the NLD. The word formal is there in the designation because one fine day in October, he took the supposedly radical step of criticising radical Buddhism. His critics say that he has committed blasphemy and Lin Oo has been forced to apologise to monks of the Ma Ba Tha movement on Thursday.
Lin Oo’s crime is that he said that Buddhism should not be misused for nationalistic struggles. In the aftermath of his speech criticising the prevalent trend of violent Buddhist, groups uploaded exerts from his speech that made it look like he was criticising the religion as a whole. Lin Oo was virtually alone in swimming against the tide in Burma where a respected religion is used by misogynists to further their agenda of hatred against other religions and nationalities.
The fashion in which the NLD hurriedly fired Lin Oo, the blasphemous charges filed by the government and his isolation inside the country points to an alarming rise of a militant version of this traditionally peaceful religion.