‘We Love Wirathu’ – supporters gather outside court as notorious monk makes first appearance via video link 

The hate-preaching monk Wirathu has made his first court appearance after handing himself in to police on Monday almost a year and a half after going on the run to avoid a charge of sedition. 

The monk appeared via video link – a measure aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 – to be officially remanded in custody by the Yangon Western District Court, which set the next hearing for November 17.  

About 20 monks and 50 nationalist activists gathered in front of the court holding signs reading “We Love Wirathu” while police stood guard around the court compound.

In May last year the Western District General Administration Department’s deputy administrator filed a charge against Wirathu under section 124a of the penal code, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

The charge followed a May 5 speech in which the monk attacked State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and said that she “shakes her butt when meeting with foreigners,” according to transcripts submitted to the court. 

On Monday the monk showed up surrounded by supporters at the Western District Police Station in Yangon to hand himself in. 

It is unclear why he came out of hiding just a few days before a general election that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is widely favoured to win. 

As he entered the police station he called out to his supporters with a message about Sunday’s poll.

“My dear fellow monks, please urge the people online to vote for those who will protect race and religion,” he said. 

Wirathu also faces separate charges for defamation and causing public fear and alarm, which were brought against him by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, as well as a charge for absconding last year. 

Wirathu has been accused of stoking religious tensions and inciting anti-Muslim riots. He has described Muslims as “mad dogs” and reportedly once referred to himself as the “Burmese Bin Laden”.

He is now being held at Insein prison. 

Photos – (Sai Zaw/Myanmar Now) 

Related Articles

Back to top button