MaBaTha

Matthew Walton has co-authored an article in the May-June edition of the Mekong Review about the controversial and misunderstood Myanmar Buddhist organisation known as Ma Ba Tha.

Abstract

"What is MaBaTha? The group, best known by its Burmese language acronym, but also called the Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion, has become virtually synonymous with Buddhist nationalism and anti-Muslim discrimination and violence in Myanmar, especially since 2012. U Wirathu, MaBaTha’s most prominent member, is infamous for his extremist, racist and sexist remarks, and recently received a one year teaching ban from Myanmar’s Buddhist authorities. His continued antics, along with the shocking and tragic assassination in January of prominent Muslim lawyer and activist U Ko Ni, have kept public attention on MaBaTha.

But media reports and scholarly analyses continue to oversimplify the group, its membership and its goals, not to mention the nature of the apparently widespread anti- Muslim sentiment across Myanmar. This is a problem, not only because of the ways in which a superficial view of MaBaTha incorrectly informs our analyses of politics and communal conflict in Myanmar, but also because the very phenomenon of “Buddhist nationalism” requires better understanding."

Related Research Projects

Matthew J Walton, Ma Khin Mar Mar Kyi and Aye Thein