Buddhist monk stokes tension by building stupa in church compound

The followers of the prominent Buddhist monk U Thuzana, also known as Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw, built a stupa inside a church compound in Hlaingbwe, Kayin State, on April 23, despite requests from other Buddhist monks, the Myanmar Baptist Convention and ethnic armed groups not to stoke religious tensions in the area.

This is the second stupa the Sayadaw has commissioned within a church compound. Last September, he instructed his followers to build one on the grounds of a church in Mezaing Village, Hpa-an Township. Both churches have been recognised as private property for years.

Taung Ga Lay Sayadaw, another prominent Buddhist monk, posted a statement on his Facebook account calling on all concerned parties to breed the four cardinal virtues in their minds and exercise sympathy instead of feeling grudges and hatred.

Pado Saw Ar Toe, the head of the department for home and religious affairs under the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic armed organisation, said on his Facebook account that this situation can damage the efforts of the people of Kayin State to strengthen goodwill and friendship between all religions.

“This matter is related to religion, and it is a bit difficult to solve. When seen from a religious angle, it is not a good sign. If both sides do not see equity, problems can develop. All religious parties should seek a fair solution. The request letter is not enough to stop the problem. The authorities should become involved in the situation,” a local resident from Shwegun Station Village in Hlaingbwe Township said.

Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw is reportedly now planning to build a pagoda near a mosque in Shwegun Station Village.

People around Kayin State have called on the government to intervene against the Sayadaw’s intrusions in order to prevent any possible conflict between religious groups.