Myanmar military releases Wirathu, an anti-Rohingya Muslim monk
Myanmar military announced on Monday that it had released Wirathu, a nationalist Buddhist monk notorious for his anti-Muslim tirades after all charges were dropped including sedition charges brought by Aung San Suu Kyi’s deposed government.
It also added saying that the monk has received treatment at the military hospital without providing any details.
Wirathu, who was once dubbed by Time magazine the “The Face of Buddhist Terror” for his role stirring up religious hatred in Myanmar, was jailed after turning himself in last November.
In 2001, Wirathu started involved in the anti-Muslim 969 group and was first jailed in 2003 then released in 2010.
He became famous after rioting broke out between Buddhists and ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims in 2012.
The 53-year-old monk was the founder of a nationalist organization that was accused of inciting violence against Rohingya Muslims.
His tirades led him to get banned by Myanmar’s highest Buddhist authority from preaching for one year in 2017. And Facebook deleted his account in 2018.
However, Wirathu remained a regular at nationalist rallies, in which he accused Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption and fumed against its failed attempts to rewrite the constitution drafted by the military.
Wirathu was able to build upon widespread prejudice in Buddhist-majority Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslims, who are portrayed as migrants from Bangladesh, despite they had lived in Myanmar for generations.
Last year, he was jailed after turning himself in over May 2019 charges of attempting to bring hatred/contempt, and of exciting disaffection towards the then-government.
Attacks by a Rohingya armed group on Myanmar police posts in 2017 triggered a brutal military crackdown that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee into Bangladesh and is now the subject of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice.
Myanmar Now, an independent media group, reported that the military had ‘pardoned’ him amid the campaign for his release by nationalist supporters. A supported added that it was also because he had had COVID-19 and was in unhealthy condition.