As Myanmar's military continues indiscriminately killing, raping and torturing Rohingya Muslims, influential Buddhist extremists keep on fueling the fire of genocide with their hate speech.
Case in point: Recently, a revered Buddhist monk Sitagu Sayadaw, also known as Sayadaw Ashin Nyanissara, suggested it was OK to kill non-Buddhists because they are "one and a half real human beings," while delivering a religious sermon to officers at the Bayintnaung military garrison in Thandaung, Kayin State.
"Non-Buddhist are not human, so killing them is justified," says top Myanmar Buddhist. pic.twitter.com/18Zhdm9930— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) November 2, 2017
Sitagu made this heinous suggestion while sharing an anecdote about a Sri Lankan king who killed countless number of people belonging to the Hindu Tamil community. The monk said the king was assured by his Buddhist advisers that it wasn't sinful to murder all those people because they "added up only to one and a half lives," since they didn't believe in Buddhism.
“Don’t worry, king, it’s a little bit of sin. Don’t worry,” Sitagu Sayadaw said. “Even though you killed millions of people, they were only one and a half real human beings.”
Although, Sitagu quickly tried to distance himself from the story, he told the soldiers to “bear [this story] in mind.”
In local Burmese media, Sitagu is portrayed as a monk known for his humanitarian activities, however, he is a highly controversial figure. He has long been associated with the extremist Buddhist group called Ma Ba Tha as its vice chair and its head, Ashin Wirathu, a virulently anti-Muslim saffron-robed fundamentalist, whose vitriol has led to the massacre of untold number of Rohingya Muslims. Time magazine once dubbed Wirathu as the "Buddhist bin Laden" in a 2013 edition, which featured a photo of Wirathu with the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror.”
It is important to mention here that hardline monks from Ma Ba Tha have been instrumental in spreading hate against Rohingya Muslims, eventually leading to their mass persecution. They have long campaigned against their citizenship rights and have, so far, been successful at it.
It's troubling how, despite the ongoing persecution of the ethnic Rohingya community, influential monks like Sitagu are allowed to openly call for the massacre of non-Buddhists.
However, not all Buddhists, as news site Coconut Yangon noted, support his vile rhetoric.
“This was a shocking speech,” said Thet Swe Win, director of the Centre for Youth and Social Harmony, an interfaith organization. “It was totally against the Buddhism I understood. Buddha teaches about love, kindness, and compassion to every human being, regardless of race and religion, and also teaches that killing is a sin. But this speech said killing non-Buddhist people is not a sin.”