Police in Myanmar have issued an arrest warrant against the firebrand Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, over his alleged incendiary remarks about Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.
Wirathu, called the 'Buddhist Bin Laden', has long been accused of inciting sectarian violence against Muslims, in particular the Rohingya community, through Islamaphobic speeches.
While he was in the forefront of Myanmar’s radical nationalist movement, he backed the military crackdown on the Rohingya in August 2017 in Rahkine state. The UN had later described the military action as ethnic cleansing carried out with 'genocidal intent'.
The police said a warrant had been issued his arrest under article 124(a) of the legal code that covers sedition, defined as 'attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government'. The charge carries a three-year sentence.
This is with regard to the defamatory comments the monk made about state counsellor, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.The police are on the lookout for him Wirathu who lives in his own compound within the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay.
If charged, this would not be Wirathu’s first time in prison. He was jailed in 2003 by the junta but released in 2012 under an amnesty and began touring the country, spewing hatred against Muslims.
The senior Buddhist council has temporarily prevented Wirathu from preaching, over the past few months he has been a regular feature at pro-military rallies, calling for boycotts of Muslim businesses and referring to the Rohingya as illegal immigrants.He had been banned from entering Thailand last month.
Though Buddhism preaches non-violence, Wirathu has openly said he is 'proud to be called a radical Buddhist' and in a sermon said, 'You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog.'
Speaking at a rally in October, he spoke against the international criminal court (ICC) bid to investigate the crimes against the Rohingya. 'The day when the ICC comes here is the day that Wirathu holds a gun,' he warned ominously.