| 28 May 2024, Tuesday |

Firebrand Myanmar monk Wirathu released from prison

After charges of stirring up disaffection against Myanmar’s previous civilian government were dropped, the nationalist Buddhist monk, Wirathu, was freed from prison on Monday.
Wirathu became prominent in 2012 after deadly riots broke out between Buddhists and ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. He founded a nationalist organization that was accused of inciting violence against Muslims.

Muslims from other ethnic groups and in other areas also faced disrespect and occasional violence after Wirathu and his supporters launched their nationalist campaign. Time Magazine called Wirathu “The Face of Buddhist Terror” in a cover story in 2013.
Wirathu and his supporters were also successful in lobbying for laws making interfaith marriages difficult.
Par Mount Kha, another activist monk and friend of Wirathu, confirmed late Monday that the case had been dropped.
“I am 100 percent sure that Wirathu has been released. We welcome his release,” he said.
People Media, an online news site, said it had received confirmation of Wirathu’s release from Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw.
“The case was closed and he was released this evening. Even though U Wirathu was released, he is still receiving medical treatment at the Tatmadaw Hospital,” it quoted Zaw Min Tun as saying.
No reason was given for dropping the case.
Wirathu had turned himself in for arrest last November after being a fugitive from justice since May 2019, when a court issued a warrant for his arrest under a section of the penal code that criminalizes comments that “bring into hatred or contempt” or “excite disaffection against” the government.