BURMA’S highest ranking monks have severed ties with a hardline Buddhist movement known as the Ma Ba Tha, which is largely responsible for anti-Muslim sentiments that spurred a spate of violence against the minorities in the country.
In a statement on Tuesday, The Sangha Maha Nayara Committee said it has never endorsed the ultra-nationalist Ma Ba Tha, a group which prides itself as being at the frontline of anti-Muslim protests in the predominantly Buddhist country, the AFP reported.
Ma Ba Tha, which was formed three years ago, claims it was established under rules set by the Sangha, which the top monks refute.
“The Ma Ba Tha organization is not included under the basic rules, procedures… and instructions of the Sangha organization,” the committee said in the statement.
“Starting from the first Sangha summit in 1980 until the fifth Sangha summit in 2014, no Sangha meeting has acknowledged or formed the Ma Ba Tha – and it has never used the term Ma Ba Tha.”
According to the Myanmar Times, the committee said there must be only one Sangha association composed of all Buddhist orders in the country. The statement runs contrary to Ma Ba Tha’s claim that it was formed in accordance with the Sangha’s rules and laws.
“This is to clarify the confusion among the public: Ma Ba Tha is not a Buddhist organisation that was formed in accordance with the basic Sangha rules, regulations and directives of the State Sangha authority,” the statement read.
The committee said there are only nine Buddhist orders in the country, which nullified the formation of any other Buddhist order.
The law also prevents such organisations from involvement in politics.
Following this, the committee is looking into issuing a directive to bar its members from participating in the Ma Ba Tha or any of its activities.