The leader of the Myanmar's nationalist 969 Movement made a caustic remark on the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee. The video of the monk insulting the UN envoy has gone viral and became a much discussed topic in Myanmar.
The video of the speech was shared by the Democratic Voice of Burmese [Warning: The video contains offensive language.]
The 969 Movement is a Buddhist nationalist movement in Myanmar that has gained popularity among the people over the past two years. It is led by the controversial icon, Wirathu, who was named “The Face of Buddhist Terror” by Time Magazine. Most recently, the movement has tried to pass a controversial bill that would impose serious restrictions on inter-faith marriages in the country.
The speech was made during a protest, in time for the second trip of the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar. During her first visit, she issued statement of concern about the situation of the Rohingya people living inside refugee camps in Myanmar. Rohinyas are mostly Muslims living in Myanmar and other parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Myanmar government recognizes them as illegal immigrants and they are not even considered as an ethnic minority.
Some Burmese Buddhists believe that Rohingyas and other Muslims are plotting to dominate Myanmar, which has a predominantly Buddhist population. In recent years, violent clashes between Muslim and Buddhist groups have displaced thousands of residents in the country, especially in the Rakhine state.
Ye Htut, the Presidential Spokesperson and Minister of Information, thought that the Buddhist monks should have focused on the topic of peace. He said:
Personally, I believe that Buddhist monks and any other religious leaders should recite speeches reflecting compassion, love, empathy and good ethics.
U Pandavunsa, a famous monk in the country, said that using inflammatory language is against the code of ethnics of Buddhist monks:
According to our code of ethics, a member of our clergy cannot use his hands to bring other people to harm, not to mention curse or badmouth or insult them. Everybody understands that a monk should be a man of loving kindness. The International community will look down on Buddhism for what he said.
Maung Zarni, a political analyst, shared his thoughts about Ms. Yanghee Lee being addressed in this way:
In the eyes of #Myanmar Nazis in monk's Saffron robe, UN human rights investigator and law professor is a ‘whore'! For she supports the rights of #Rohingya to self-identity, to a nationality and to be treated as humans.
Myo Lwin (Demo Fatty), an anonymous Facebook personality and whistle-blower, was concerned about the impression that the world would now have about Myanmar's Buddhism:
Now it is widespread in the international news. Even swearing a women “prostitute” is too much. Now the face of our people, our country, and our religion is going down the drain.
This protest and the speech come as the latest in the anti-Muslim movement initiated by the 969. Wirathu, however, defended his decision to attack the UN envoy:
That was the harshest word (I could think of), so I used it. If I could find a harsher word, I would have used it. It is nothing compared to what she did to our country.
Wirathu believes the UN rapporteur has no right to portray Myanmar in a negative light by commenting about the situation of the Rohingya refugees, insisting that Rohingyas has no legitimacy to remain in the country.
The Myanmar government announced that it will investigate the speech of Wirathu against the UN rapporteur.