Militant Buddhism

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TIME, July 1, 2013


  • Myanmar’s Buddhist terrorism problem - Usaid Siddiqui, Al Jazeera Amarica, February 18, 2015
    The campaign against the Rohingya and Muslims in Myanmar is spearheaded by controversial monk Ashin Wirathu. Once referred to as the “Burmese bin Laden,” he is the leader of an ultranationalist group called 969, which opposes the growth of Islam in Myanmar. He was jailed in 2003 for inciting hatred and stirring sectarian clashes and released in 2010.
    Wirathu has warned against an impending Muslim takeover of Myanmar. In 2012 the rape of a Buddhist woman in northern Rakhine led to violent attacks that left dozens of civilians dead and more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims displaced. Human Rights Watch described the humanitarian crisis as “ethnic cleansing.”
  • In Myanmar, attacking the Rohingya is good politics - Joseph Schatz, Al Jazeera Amarica, May 29, 2015
    Plight of thousands of boat people draws international criticism, but locally, persecution works at the polls
  • Burmese Bin Laden: Is Buddhist Monk Wirathu Behind Violence in Myanmar? - Gianluca Mezzofiore, IBT, March 22, 2013
  • Sectarian Violence in Myanmar - Global Conflict Tracker, Council on Foreign Relations
  • The Resistance of the Monks - Buddhism and Activism in Burma - Human Rights Watch, September 2009 p.27
    In contrast with the popular image of Buddhist monks as men aloof from worldly affairs who devote themselves almost entirely to tranquil meditation in monasteries, Burma’s monks have come to play a decisive role in the country’s pro-democracy movement. But this is not a new phenomenon. Burma’s politicized, and sometimes even militant, form of Buddhism dates back to the end of the 19th century. Following the British conquest of upper Burma, and the removal of King Thibaw from his palace in Mandalay in 1885, Buddhist monks dressed in their yellow and crimson robes led bands of armed rebels against the colonial power. As Donald Eugene Smith wrote in his study Religion and Politics in Burma: “In the anti-colonial struggle, the pongyis (monks) were the first nationalists.”
  • Portrait of Myanmar’s ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ chills Cannes - Fiachra Gibbons, Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2017
    The documentary on Wiranthu, a buddhist monk accused of preaching hatred against the Rohinya minority stirred audiences at the film festival.

Myanmar coup, February 2021


Sri Lanka

  • The darker side of Buddhism - Charles Haviland, BBC News, May 30, 2015
    Another country where fierce Buddhism has recently made headlines is Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. A Buddhist faction there, the 969 movement, is known for strident anti-Muslim campaigns that have triggered widespread violence.
    Its leader, Shin Wirathu, was recently invited to Sri Lanka by the BBS. Both organisations say that even if Buddhism predominates in their own countries, overall it is under threat. "We want to protect it, therefore we signed a memorandum of understanding on forming alliances in the Asian region," says Withanage.