Mass amnesty in Myanmar

Hate preacher Wirathu presumably released (Press Release)

According to media reports, Buddhist hate preacher Ashin Wirathu was among the tens of thousands of prisoners who were pardoned by the Myanmar military today (Friday). "The release of this highly dangerous intellectual arsonist is a slap in the face of the members of Myanmar's non-Buddhist minorities," criticized Jasna Causevic, expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). "He preached hatred against Muslims, especially against the Rohingya, like no one else. He supported the genocide against this ethnic group –ideologically and rhetorically – and is thus partly responsible for it."

The ultra-nationalist Wirathu, who is also known as the "Burmese Bin Laden", had surrendered to the police in Yangon shortly before last November's general election. "The generals had always tolerated his hate messages and used them for their own purposes. It was not until he publicly criticized Aung San Suu Kyi, who was allied with the military at the time, that the junta issued an arrest warrant," Causevic recalled. "Now that this alliance is broken, the junta is probably trying to use the hate preacher to form an alliance with the ultra-nationalists in the country."

Details on the mass amnesty are still in the dark, but there are several plausible scenarios. "There seems to be some chaos within the military at the moment, as dangerous criminals and innocent political prisoners have been released," Causevic said. "Clearly, the generals are trying to make room for coming waves of arrests. At the same time, they probably want to make nice with critical voices in the country and abroad."