Crime & Justice

Fugitive nationalist monk Wirathu hands himself over to Myanmar police

Yangon, Myanmar, Nov 2 (efe-epa).- Ultra-nationalist Burmese monk Wirathu, known for promoting Islamophobia and racism, handed himself over to police in Yangon on Monday after a year of evading sedition charges.

A warrant for his arrest was issued in May 2019.

He appeared at a monastic center in the former capital of Myanmar, Yangon, on Monday.

He was then voluntarily escorted by officers to the Dogan municipal police station, according to former senator and Wirathu supporter, Phone Myint Aung, who witnessed the incident.

Wirathu, who in 2013 was referred to by Time magazine as “the face of Buddhist terror,” has been accused of making defamatory comments about the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The arrest warrant was based on a sedition law that prohibits fueling hatred or contempt against the government and the charges could lead to a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Wirathu is a controversial figure known for his hateful comments toward minority Muslim communities in Myanmar during a wave of violence in 2013 and he has openly supported a military operation that in 2017 forced 100,000s of Rohingya people to flee to Bangladesh.

The United Nations has accused the Burmese military of carrying out genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine State.

Wirathu was once a well-known figure of the nationalist 969 Movement, which was created to oppose what it claimed was the expansion of Islam in Myanmar, and the Patriotic Association of Myanmar, commonly referred to as Ma Ba Tha, which lobbied the government for anti-Muslim laws.

He was the subject of a 2016 documentary called The Venerable W by Swiss director Barbet Schroeder.

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