Self-Described Buddhist Nationalists Protest Govt ‘Oppression’

Protesters said they were ‘highlighting the current oppression’ of their ‘race and religion.’

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A group of people calling themselves “myo chit myar” in Burmese, which translates to “nationalists” in English, held a protest against the Mon State government in the capital of Mawlamyine on Friday afternoon.

The 2,500 protesters from all 10 of Mon State townships included some 60 Buddhist monks. They called themselves “lovers of their race and religion” and said that the government was oppressing Buddhists.

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“The objective of this protest is that we want to highlight the current oppression against our race and religion,” Aung Hla Htay, a protest leader, told NMG.

Aung Hla Htay would not answer further questions on what kind of oppression he was referring to.

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Burma has seen a resurgence of people referring to themselves as “myo chit myar” following the issuing of an arrest warrant in late May for Buddhist monk Wirathu, an ultranationalist monk known for his anti-Muslim sentiment. There have been a spate of protests against the government since then, in which people show their support for Wirathu.

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“As monks, we have a responsibility to take care of our religion. Therefore, we cooperate with people who love their race and religion, to protest against the oppressive government,” monk Ashin Dayaza Damma told NMG.

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Protestors walked from Mawlamyine’s Yepaw River bank to the Salween park. The demonstrators called “race and religion destroyers” their “enemy.” Their slogans included, “continue the existence of our religion… our cause!” and “We don’t want an oppressive government which destroys race and religion.”