Hardline monk Wiranthu returns from one-year preaching silence

Myanmar’s hardline nationalist monk Wiranthu has recently emerged from a one-year preaching ban with a vow to continue the nationalist work, according to The Irrawaddy News Online on Monday.

Wiranthu said on Saturday that his anti-Muslim rhetoric had nothing to do with the violence in the western state of Rakhine which saw more than 700,000 Muslim Rohingyas having fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since insurgents attacked Myanmar police and army posts in August last year.

The hardline nationalist monk said Rakhine was experiencing terrorism of Bengalis, dismissing claim that he had created conflict there.

He cited the relative peace of his hometown, Mandalay. “If Wiranthu creates conflict, Mandalay would become ash. The world doesn’t know this truth,” said the monk.

Mandalay was hit by communal riots that killed two people in 2014 after news spread of what turned out to be a false claim that Muslims had raped a Buddhist woman.

Wiranthu travelled at least twice in the past year to the violence-hit northern part of Rakhine state despite Myanmar’s highest religious authority imposing a one-year preaching ban in March 2017.

The hardline monk reacted to his silencing by posting online photograhs of himself with his mouth taped over and by continuing to post videos and comments online. But his Facebook account has not been accessible in recent months.

Another nationalist monk, Parmaukkha was released from prison on Friday after serving three months for a 2016 protest against US government’s use of the world “Rohingya”.