JNN 06 Oct 2014 Myanmar : A radical monk who heads a movement accused of stirring violence against Muslims in Myanmar has announced a partnership with a hardline Buddhist group in Sri Lanka to defend their religion.
The declaration by Ashin Wirathu, who once called himself “the Burmese bin Laden”, was the clearest signal to date of a push to spread the ideology of his controversial 969 movement beyond Myanmar to build a front against Muslims.
“Today, Buddhism is in danger. We need hands to be firmly held together if we hear alarm bells ringing,” he told a convention that was held at an indoor stadium in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, on Sunday.
“I’d Lanka’s Bodu like to announce that 969 and I will join hands with Sri Bala Sena to protect Buddhists all round the world,” he said, referring to a group that has been accused of tyrannizing the minority Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
In his eight-minute speech, Wirathu thanked Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for granting him a visa, despite protests by some Muslim groups in the island nation.
He told the gathering that “Buddhism was under siege, mainly from Muslims.”
The remarks come as thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could face indefinite detention under a new government plan that requires them to either accept ethnic reclassification and register as Bengalis or be detained.
Under the draft plan, authorities in the restive Rakhine State will have to construct temporary camps for those Rohingya Muslims who refuse to register as immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
Those Rohingyas who do not have adequate documents will be also sent to the detention camps.
The United Nations recognizes the Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as one of the world’s most persecuted communities.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country’s independence in 1948.
The Myanmar government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims.
The predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese account for 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million.