Despite the threat of a raging pandemic and sniper bullets, a small band of monks in Burgundy robes flock to the city of Mandalay, Myanmar, every day. Their appeal lasts only a few minutes, with rushing candlelight vigil and flashmob protests behind a monastery with golden eaves.
The demands of clergy are high: men in uniform, men who protest a little loudly that they are devout Buddhists, have to get out of politics. The military has ruled Myanmar for 60 years. Recently, he has couped against elected governments and has killed more than 1,000 people for bold opposition to seize power.
“In the future, there should be no dictatorship at all,” read the monk’s high-ranking sign on Monday.
In an overwhelming Buddhist state where monks are considered the supreme moral authority, the political turmoil since the February 1 coup has created a deep, naked division among Myanmar clergy. A few monks openly participated in the protest and hundreds were imprisoned for it, but the priests did not play the leading role known for past attacks of resistance to the army. Some prominent monks even gave the general their blessings.
According to Buddhist clergy, this division of the monk’s community is due to the military’s zealous courtship of influential monks, seducing them with donations, and making soldiers more of a true faith than civilian leaders. I promise to be an advocate. Sharper tactics to discourage monks from protesting as armed security forces occupy the monastery (a potential center of resistance) and order priests to return home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Was also used.
The relatively low number of monks from protests, especially in the first few weeks after the coup, is inconsistent with Myanmar’s broader mood. Millions of people marched down the street after Army Chief of Staff, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, ordered the imprisonment of the elected leader. Even today, the pockets of democratic rebellion have endured as security forces witnessed protesters and the coronavirus ran around the country.
For centuries, Myanmar monks have taken a bold political position, from hunger strikes demanding independence from Britain to street protests against military rule in 2007. And the government-run National Council of Clergy almost surrendered to the new order imposed in February, but some monks opposed it.
U Mani Sara, a Mandalay monk, spent a month in prison for attending an anti-military rally earlier this year. On his way to his cell, he said he was forced to jump like a frog for hours. In the morning, the spoiled rice was delivered in a plastic bag, but it had to be used for other purposes because there was no toilet.
“The army is the power of the devil to use Buddhism for political purposes to build power,” Manisara said.
As the military is known, Tatmadaw has always used the gorgeous display of religion to justify its rule. The day after the February coup, Pucci’s leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, crouched at the feet of a senior Buddhist abbot.
The images of generals and monks in the state press conveyed a clear message. In a very devout country, military takeover was sanctified by higher authority.
U Ariyawuntha, abbot of Mandalay, said: “The army is one of the main criminals who undermined the image of Buddhism in Myanmar.
General Min Aung Hlaing, who ordered multiple pogroms against the religious minority, deliberately fused his faith and raised the flag. His army instructed Buddhists that it was a national duty to protect religion and that Tatmadaw was the ultimate spiritual guardian of the country.
Monks were one of the most violent champions and Buddhist resurrected Islam when a military-led atrocities campaign drove more than three-quarters of Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh in 2017. It reflected the military’s unfounded claim that it was threatened by Islam. The public strongly supported the deadly campaign that the United States describes as ethnic cleansing.
However, the justification of Junta’s denominations against the coup, that is, the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, is not so widely accepted as being wary of corrupting oil-rich Islamic countries and Buddhism. And instead of supporting the general, some monks join the armed People’s Defense Force, which works with the remnants of the exiled civilian leadership and the self-declared opposition government formed by representatives of ethnic, religious, and civil society groups. I stopped doing that.
“I will be a soldier until I get democracy,” said Bo Tide Di, a monk until he began training with the People’s Defense Force this summer. “I exchanged the monk for masculinity.”
In 2007, tens of thousands of monks marched, and some monks turned their beggars upside down to symbolize their dissatisfaction with the military regime. Led by a priest, hundreds of thousands of civilians participated in the protest.
The army responded by shooting and killing opposition to democratization gathered behind the Golden Tower. Dozens of monasteries have been ordered to close. The public’s sentiment solidified towards the general, and the military eventually signed a power-sharing agreement with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. There was a second overwhelming victory in the November poll, followed by a February coup.
This time, many Buddhist institutions remain silent as the military cracks down on opposition, but a few monks participating in the Flash protest are amplifying their actions on social media.
The state’s religious council, which relies on public funds, is primarily in favor of that policy. Nationalist monks have repeatedly criticized Aung San Suu Kyi’s government for betraying Buddhism into Islam (although she defended the military persecution of Rohingya Muslims during her tenure). figure).
“Only pessimists or opponents have accused Senior General Min Aung Hlaing of gaining power using Buddhism,” said monk U Su Citta Sara, a spokesman for nationality and religion, who preached against mixing. A spokesman for the association, or Ma Ba Tha, said. With Muslims. “People killed by the military on the streets during protests may not be truly innocent.”
The monks associated with Ma Ba Tha receive financial support from General Tatmadaw. They toured the destroyed Rohingya village and congratulated the Buddhist civilians who participated in the bloodshed.
“Since 2007, the military has understood the strength of monks and has tried to use Islam to create Ma Ba Tha to create divisions among monks, so the monks involved in the 2021 revolution It’s gone, “said U Par Kata, another monk who fled. The area where the People’s Defense Force trained. “The monks who support the army and the coup are not only destroying the country, but also Buddhism.”
After the coup, security forces shot and killed unarmed demonstrators and child bystanders as well, so the country’s most respected monk, Asin Nyanisara (more commonly known as Sitagu Sayadau), I was silent. He allowed a uniformed man to pray at his feet. Only a few weeks later, he urged military junta to stop killing peaceful protesters.
Citagsayadau has a monk outpost in the United States and operates a theological university. As the military slaughter, mass rape, and arson campaigns against the Rohingya intensified, he delivered sermons to military officers that provided religious justification for killing non-Buddhists. He said the army and monks could not be separated.
Sitagu Sayadau accompanied him when General Min Aung Hlaing went to Moscow on a weapons purchase trip in 2018 and 2019. When the current self-proclaimed Prime Minister of Myanmar, the Shogun, returned to Russia in June to increase his weapons …