Politicians and activists in Myanmar have criticized an influential Buddhist nationalist group for holding large public gatherings across the country to celebrate the passage of a set of four controversial laws RFA reported on 25 September.
The Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by the acronym Ma Ba Tha, has hosted rallies among tens of thousands of its supporters in recent weeks to call attention to the passage of the Race and Religion Protection Laws ahead of ahead of Myanmar’s 8 November general election.
Its members have been making increasingly political comments at the rallies across the conservative and predominantly Buddhist country and playing on religious tensions that arose during and after violent riots between Muslims and Buddhists in western Rakhine state in 2012.
The four laws passed this year, are perceived to target Muslims, because they restrict interfaith marriage, polygamy and religious conversion and address unbalanced population growth.
The NLD filed formal complaints against Ma Ba Tha on Wednesday, charging that the group was using religion to influence voters before the elections in contravention of the country’s election laws.
Rights activists indicate that Ma Ba Tha is receiving favourable treatment from authorities who must grant permission to groups to hold public gatherings and rallies.