Unlawful religious buildings face demolition, warns ministry

The government has begun demolishing Buddhist and Islamic buildings erected on state-owned land without permission, a senior official with the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs said last week, media reports said.

The government was demolishing 259 Buddhist monasteries throughout the country, including 173 in Yangon Region, that were built without official permission, U Myint Win Zaw, the ministry’s director, said on August 4.

“Every religion in Myanmar has to follow rules and regulations,” he told the Myanmar service of US state-funded broadcaster, Radio Free Asia.

“We announced this in newspapers to let people know that every person and organisation needs permission to build religious buildings,” he said.

“If there are religious buildings that were built without permission, we will remove them, and we will take action against those who constructed them if they don’t listen to us when we tell them to remove them.”

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Myint Win Zaw also said that five people would face trial in Kachin State following their arrest over an arson attack on a mosque at Hpakant on July 1.

The five are accused of leading a mob that burnt down the mosque.

The incident occurred a few days after township authorities told the trustees of the mosque it would have to be demolished because the structure was not authorised for religious purposes.

The mob attacked the mosque before legal proceedings to order its demolition had begun.

Myint Win Zaw’s comments are likely to have implications for a prominent monk in Kayin State who has been building stupas at Christian sites.

About 300 followers of Sayadaw U Thuzana, 73, built a stupa in the grounds of an Anglican church at a village in Kayin’s Hlaingbwe Township overnight on April 23, reports said.

Last September, the monk’s followers built a stupa in the grounds of Christian church in the township of the state capital, Hpa-an.

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