23 Jan UN envoy waits for Myanmar government response on U Wirathu tirade

Written by Mizzima Published in Myanmar Read 2984 times
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee talks to the media during a news conference at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon on January 16, 2015. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee talks to the media during a news conference at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon on January 16, 2015. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Ms Yanghee Lee says that she will wait and see how the Myanmar government responds to Buddhist monk U Wirathu’s abusive comments about her.

She made the remark in an interview with the BBC Burmese Service on January 22.

The monk U Wirathucalled the visiting UN Special Rapporteur Ms Lee a “bitch” and said, “In our country, you [Yanghee Lee] are just a whore,” in a virulent speech during a public rally in Yangon on January 16. More than 1,000 civilians and Buddhist monks attended the rally against Ms Lee.

U Wirathu’s speech was recorded on video and widely spread on the internet.

The UN envoy said during the BBC Burmese interview broadcast in the Myanmar language that all over the world, female human rights activists have been subject to sexist comments and Myanmar is no exception. She also took part in a similar interview with the BBC World Service.

Ms Lee recently spent several days in Myanmar on a fact-finding trip and will submit a report on the human rights situation in the country to the UN Human Rights Council in April 2015.

In response to U Wirathu’s abusive comments, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement on January 21 calling on “religious and political leaders in Myanmar to unequivocally condemn all forms of incitement to hatred including this abhorrent public personal attack against an UN-appointed expert.”

Other leading public figures have spoken out over U Wirathu’s speech.

Shwenyawa Monastery Abbot Ashin Pyinnyar Thiha said:“Even an ordinary person should not speak like that. Every Buddhist monk must obey the Buddha’s teaching in carrying out his bodily action, verbal action and mental action. Otherwise he cannot be called a monk. The well-known monk used words that should not be used even by an ordinary person.”

The government, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee have yet to make any public comment on the issue.