The chairman of Myanmar’s Peace and Diversity Party threatened to attack Muslims at a religious conference in Yangon in a series of Facebook posts accompanied by photos of men brandishing bamboo sticks.
Nay Myo Wai, a nationalist politician, was voicing his opposition to the Union Muslims Nationwide Conference on May 23 which was scrapped this week after the government refused permission, saying it risked causing instability.
Days before the cancellation, Nay Myo Wai outlined his intentions to disrupt the conference in Thanlyin Township by turning up with vats of pork curry and beating participants who used the word ‘union’ as well as any media present.
The posts, which entreated friends to join him, used the offensive terms ‘Kalar’ and ‘Dog-Kalar’ to refer to Muslims.
“We will follow after Muslim conference and we will go wherever they change the place,” he wrote on May 12. “We will face them directly. We will give speech in front of Muslim conference and will feed pork curry.”
On May 15, he followed that up with: “Today, I got 3 lakhs (300,000 kyats) worth of bamboo sticks which I ordered… There will be two groups of martial artists. We won’t start the problem. It will be fine, if they won’t use illegal name or they won’t do illegal event. If they do, we will attack and arrest.”
“We will exterminate them because they use the word ‘Union’ on the political stage,” he continued, referring to the title of the conference. “We won’t cover our faces. If someone will take photos, we will hit him with sticks… No one has permission to take photos. We will hit photographers.”
Nay Myo Wai had this to say about his remarks:
“In politics, there may be rebellion with guns. So hate speech is not an important issue in politics. Some fire by guns and some attack by RPGs. So, we have the right to say what we think is true,” he said. “Giving hate speech is ok for me. But they should have studied what I’ve said. I just talked about Muslims. ‘Muslim’ is not a race, it is just a religion. I do not accept that they used the word ‘UNION [in the name of the conference].”
The influential Buddhist group, the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, commonly known as Ma Ba Tha, pushed for the cancellation of the Union Muslims Nationwide conference, citing the use of the word ‘union’ to include Muslims.
Nay Phone Latt, an activist who launched the Panzagar or ‘flower speech’ campaign against hate speech last year, said that although Nay Myo Wai is not especially influential, the talks he organises in remote rural areas have the potential to be “very dangerous”.
“Actually he not only uses Facebook but sometimes he holds seminars and talks in very remote areas,” said Nay Phone Latt, adding that the communities have low levels of education and monks are often involved.
While Muslim have lived in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar for centuries, tensions between the communities have escalated in recent years as nationalist groups have grown increasingly popular.
Dozens have been killed in inter-communal violence since 2012.
Photo: Nay Myo Wai/Facebook
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