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Monks to set up Buddhist radio station in Myanmar

Ma Ba Tha is in the process of trying to get a broadcast license and searching for a place to establish the radio station

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Buddhist monks and people from western Myanmar's Rakhine state shout slogans during a protest against boat people in Sittwe, June 14, 2015. Image: AFP
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A group of nationalist Buddhist monks in Myanmar plan to set up a radio station to protect and disseminate their religion, despite fears that they will use it as a platform to foment anti-Muslim sentiment.

Members of the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, better known as Ma Ba Tha, want to use the station to spread the Buddha’s teachings in the predominantly Buddhist country, said the group’s senior monk Parmaukka.

“It [setting up the radio station] is according to our discipline or code of conduct because we are doing this to protect and spread our religion, not to get involved in conflicts and hatred,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

He added that Ma Ba Tha is in the process of trying to get a broadcast license and searching for a place to establish the radio station.

Buddhists monks from Thailand have thrown their support behind the project, offering to set up the station for them because they like what Ma Ba Tha has done for Buddhism in Myanmar, Parmaukka said.

Ma Ba Tha has pushed for controversial “protection of religion” laws in Myanmar and protested against ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims, whom the government refers to as “Bengali” because it views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

In May, more than 1,000 monks and other activists staged a protest in the commercial capital Yangon, urging the government not to accept the stateless Rohingya, some of whom were among the boatloads of migrants found adrift in the sea near Myanmar.

Related article: In Myanmar, monks protest over US Embassy using “Rohingya’ term for Bengali Muslims

The United Nations estimates that about 130,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled Myanmar by sea since a violent and deadly clash with majority Buddhists in mid-2012. Others, who were displaced by the violence, remain housed in camps in the country’s western Rakhine state.

At the time, Parmaukka had told RFA that the monks were repeating  their call for the government to never accept the Rohingya and other boat people.

No policy of hatred

When asked if the group would use the radio station as a platform to speak out against other religions, Parmaukka said the monks do not harbor a policy of hatred, which would go against Buddhist teachings.

“We don’t have any policy of hatred,” he said. “According to Buddha’s teachings, we can’t even kill an ant. Our policy is a nonviolent one, and it prohibits us from killing anyone. Even when we have conflicts in our society, our policy is to resolve them in a peaceful manner. That’s why we can’t have any conflicts because of this radio station.”

But Ye Htut, the information minister and presidential spokesman, said the government would not permit the monks to create a radio station.

“No, no way. We can’t allow them to do it because we don’t have a broadcast law yet,” he told a Myanmar newspaper last week, when asked whether the government planned to grant the monks a radio license.

The country’s current seven FM radio stations have joint-venture business agreements with state-owned Myanmar Radio, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Information. (RFA)

 

 

 

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U.S.A: Myanmar’s Military Campaign Against Rohingya Muslims a ‘Mass Genocide’

Lawyers for the reporters said their clients were set up and have appealed their sentences and convictions.

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Rohingya
Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution by a vote of 394-1 Thursday, declaring Myanmar’s military campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority a genocide.

A United Nations report released in August said the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes with “genocidal intent” and also definitively called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges for the first time.

Rohingya Growing

Myanmar’s military has denied previous accusations it had committed genocide, maintaining its actions were part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

Rohingya, Violence
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The atrocities have prompted the U.N. and a number of political and human rights leaders to question the southeast Asian country’s progress toward democracy.

The Burma Task Force, a coalition of U.S. and Canadian Muslim organizations, applauded the genocide designation.

“The House of Representatives has now officially adopted the position that the ongoing policies of mass violence and displacement against the Rohingya by the Myanmar government constitute genocide, bringing the U.S. closer to the emerging international consensus on the issue.

The U.S. State Department usually makes such official designations but has not used the term genocide to describe the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence,asylum
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The House resolution also called on the Myanmar government to release Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were jailed one year ago.

Also Read: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Under Fire For Myanmar Tweets

They were sentenced in September to seven years in prison for violating the country’s colonial-era Secrets Act. Lawyers for the reporters said their clients were set up and have appealed their sentences and convictions.

The Myanmar embassy in Washington did not immediately comment on the House vote. (VOA)