Wirathu Faces Arrest After Being Charged Under Sedition Law, Say Police

Firebrand anti-Muslim monk Wirathu has been charged with sedition, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, a police spokesperson has told Myanmar Now.

A General Administration Department official named San Min filed a lawsuit against the monk on Tuesday afternoon at the Yangon Western District Court, according to police colonel Myo Thu Soe.

An associate judge named Kyaw Kyaw accepted the complaint, he added.

The sedition law prohibits bringing “hatred or contempt” against Myanmar’s government as well as any message that “excites or attempts to excite disaffection” towards it.

Police say they have not yet received an arrest warrant from the court.

Earlier this month government officials said they were preparing to file lawsuits against Wirathu for allegedly defamatory and inflammatory comments. 

It is unclear which of Wirathu’s remarks are mentioned in Tuesday’s lawsuit.

Wirathu has led a number of pro-military rallies across the country recently to protest the civilian government’s efforts to amend the 2008 constitution, which affords the generals vast powers. 

During one rally in Myeik, Tanintharyi region, earlier this month he appeared to make lewd references to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.  

“When commissions are formed, they are formed with foreigners. Those who advise her are all foreigners. Those who accompany her are also foreigners,” he said. 

Then he added: “Those who sleep with… ” before stopping abruptly, prompting laughter from among the audience of around 300 people.

He also drew criticism for another speech in Yangon in which he urged the public to respect military members of parliament like the Buddha. 

“You have to pay the same respect to these soldiers as you have for the Buddha because they are having to protect the country on the military payroll while facing public hatred for this.” 

In 2017 the government-appointed State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee banned Wirathu from preaching for one year. 

The ban was imposed because he “repeatedly delivered hate speech against religions to cause communal strife and hinder efforts to uphold the rule of law,” the committee said in a statement at the time. 

Facebook has also banned him from its platform but some suspect that he is still posting with an account under the name Vicittar Bhivamsa, whose page repeats content from his personal website.

Wirathu took to VK, a Russian social media platform, on 9 May to post a video in defiance of the government’s legal threat. 

“I fear unwholesome deeds very much, but I give speeches without the fear of handcuffs and prisons,” he said as he held a candle during an apparent power cut at his monastery in Mandalay. 


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