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Ma-Ba-Tha conclude with victory celebration in Rangoon

A file photo from 2015 of Ma Ba Tha supporters at the Thuwuna Indoor Stadium, Rangoon. (Photo: DVB)

Speaking to a full house at the Thuwuna Indoor Stadium in Rangoon on Sunday afternoon, hardline Buddhist monk Ashin Nyanissara urged his colleagues to safeguard the recently passed Race and Religion Protection Laws, and to make efforts to reinstate Buddhist laws that have lapsed or been abolished in the past.

The revered abbot, commonly known as Sitagu Sayadaw, also urged people of all faiths in Burma to show mutual respect and understand towards each other, and strive for peaceful coexistence.

“First we must build mutual understanding with each other; second, mutual respect; third, we should maintain non-interference [in each other’s affairs]; fourth, practice non-violence, and coexist by avoiding violence; and fifth, coexist peacefully with great tolerance – these are the five principles for peaceful coexistence I declare here today,” said Ashin Nyanissara, who is the deputy leader of the radical Buddhist group Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, commonly known by the Burmese acronym Ma-Ba-Tha.

Yesterday’s event in Rangoon was the final conference organised by Ma-Ba-Tha in a one-month-long celebration to mark the passing of the last of the four laws.

Ma-Ba-Tha is headed by controversial monk Wirathu, who himself conducted an interview with Reuters news group on Sunday, when he slammed the opposition party National League for Democracy while praising President Thein Sein’s leadership.

The controversial Race and Religion Protection Law package, pushed through parliament by Ma-Ba-Tha, accompanied by a petition with over one million signatures, was enacted by the union parliament throughout this year despite strong objections and concerns raised by human rights groups, women’s rights activists and members of the international community.

Read more about Ma-Ba-Tha.