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ICC NOTE: The pagoda building nationalist Buddhists in Kayin State received a controversial supporter in the infamous Ma Ba Tha. Ma Ba Tha, also known as the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, have become boisterous vocal advocates for turning Burma into a strictly pure Buddhist nation. The organization supported the Union Solidarity and Development party in last years election who are allies of the military. Their support of the pagoda constructions on Christian lands has and will create a more volatile situation for both ethnic Christians and for the new government. While the government is working towards creating religious harmony in Burma, moves such as this will only make that future far more distant. 

6/10/2016 Myanmar (Myanmar Times) – The Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, better known as Ma Ba Tha, has stepped into the controversy surrounding the attempts by a senior Buddhist cleric, Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw, to build a pagoda in the grounds of a Baptist church. Members of the nationalist group have spoken out in defence of the stupa-building spree.

The dispute flared up last year as the then-government appeared ready to get involved in the dispute, in Mi Zine village, Hpa-an township, Kayin State. In the event, neither the government nor state Buddhist organisations have been able to resolve the matter.

Ma Ba Tha secretary Mya Zaydi Sayadaw, or U Vimala Buddhi, raised the matter at the organisation’s third anniversary conference on June 4 and 5.

He sought to justify attempts to build the pagoda on the grounds that Buddhism appeared to be expanding in the state, even in formerly Christian villages. He cited the emergence of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, as a separate force from the ethnic Karen National Union. Now, he claimed, it was time to reclaim what had been a Buddhist heritage in the state from the Christian influence of the KNU.

“The stupa that the sayadaw wants to build would stand above an ancient pagoda,” he said.

Last year, the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which is objecting to the planned construction, acquired an unlikely ally in the form of prominent Ma Ba Tha member U Wirathu, a monk known for his outspokenness on hard-line Buddhist matters. He appeared to urge Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw not to proceed with the construction.

Ma Ba Tha has been hit with a series of high-level resignations, including thedeparture this week of U Parmaukkha, also known as Magwe Sayadaw, who criticised the organisation for supporting the former Union Solidarity and Development Party in last year’s elections.

Attempts by the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (Ma Ha Na) and the Kayin Sangha Nayaka committee to resolve the issue had failed, a committee member who requested anonymity said yesterday.

There remains a possibility of placing the matter before the current Minister for Religion and Culture Thura U Aung Ko.

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