News / Asia

    Radical Burma Buddhist Monk Unhurt in Bomb Blast

    Burma police officers inspect a damaged vehicle at the scene of a small blast that happened close by the vehicle in Mandalay, July 22, 2013.
    Burma police officers inspect a damaged vehicle at the scene of a small blast that happened close by the vehicle in Mandalay, July 22, 2013.
    Reuters
    A bomb exploded meters away from a radical Buddhist monk as he delivered a mass sermon in Burma, police said on Monday, the latest flare-up in tensions pitting Buddhists against minority Muslims.
     
    Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
    x
    Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
    Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
    Wirathu, the prominent monk who heads a movement accused of stirring violence against Muslims, said he believed the blast on Sunday evening in Burma's second city, Mandalay, was intended to silence him.
     
    The home-made bomb went off inside a parked car, according to police and witnesses. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
     
    Tensions have been smoldering between radical elements of Burma's Buddhist majority and Muslims. Bouts of religious violence have killed at least 237 people and displaced 150,000 in the past year, testing the resolve of a two-year-old quasi-civilian government.
     
    The device exploded during a ceremony conducted by Wirathu,  who once called himself “the Burmese bin Laden”. He is the chief proponent of a movement known as 969, which reformist President Thein Sein's office has described as a “symbol of peace”.
     
    Wirathu was unharmed, despite being 40 feet (12 meters) from the blast, according to police. Five people were slightly injured, including a novice monk.
     
    Sources close to Wirathu could not be immediately reached for comment. However, the monk told Radio Free Asia's Burmese service that he had previously received a sound recording containing a threat to his life, which he believed was the voice of a Muslim cleric.
     
    The bomb, he said, was intended to silence him.
     
    “I've no idea who exactly carried out this explosion. But it must have been done by those who usually carry out terrorist acts,” he told Radio Free Asia. “The motive could be to shut my mouth.”
     
    Reuters investigations in two of the hotspots of unrest - Rakhine state and the central city of Meikhtila  - have revealed the violence was on both occasions fanned by monks who led Buddhist mobs.
     
    “We can say it was a small hand-made bomb that caused the explosion. We are not in a position to reveal any more information at the moment since investigation is ongoing,” a Mandalay police officer told Reuters by telephone, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
     
    Death threat received
     
    A witness said security had since been stepped up in Mandalay. Even prior to the explosion, security had been tight during Buddhist events held in the past week in the commercial capital, Rangoon.
     
    The explosion took place on the fifth and final day of mass sermons held by Wirathu.
     
    The president's office, which said it wants to foster peace, tolerance and unity in ethnically diverse Burma, has described Wirathu as “a son of Lord Buddha.” Buddhists make up about 90 percent of the estimated 60 million population.
     
    The 969 movement has been accused of stirring anti-Muslim sentiment in a deeply Buddhist nation, where curbs on freedom of speech and assembly have eased since the end of military rule two years ago.
     
    A Reuters investigation last month showed 969 monks were providing a moral justification for a wave of anti-Muslim bloodshed that could derail Burma's nascent reforms.
     
    Government officials were unavailable for comment about Sunday's explosion.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora