By Aishat Salihu
An arrest warrant has been issued for a nationalist Buddhist monk, Wirathu, on a charge of sedition by a court in Myanmar on Wednesday.
Police spokesman Myo Thu Soe, said the arrest warrant had been issued on Tuesday by the western district court in Myanmar’s main city, Yangon but did not give a reason for the arrest.
Evidently, Wirathu is known for his rhetoric against minority Muslims, particularly the Rohingya community, but he has also been critical of the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and supportive of Myanmar’s powerful military.
He is however the most prominent of the nationalist monks to gain growing political weight in Myanmar since a transition from military rule began in 2011 and at recent rallies, Wirathu has accused the government of corruption also criticized it for trying to change the constitution in a way that would reduce the power of the military.
“This sedition accusation is bullying him,”
“We won’t say what we will do if he is arrested, but it is certain that we won’t be calm”, Thu Saitta, an ally of Wirathu said.
Speaking on the incident, the police spokesman said the warrant had not yet been received by police in the central city of Mandalay, where Wirathu is based.
The law under which Wirathu faces possible arrest prohibits bringing “hatred or contempt” or exciting disaffection toward the government. It carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
Wirathu was banned by Myanmar’s highest religious authority from preaching for one year until early last year because of hate speech.
He has often targeted Rohingya Muslims, more than 700,000 of whom fled an army crackdown in Rakhine State in 2017 that U.N. investigators said was carried out with “genocidal intent”.