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Myanmar Jails Three over Insult to Buddha

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rocketsjudoka, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Very troubling story as one believes in the principles of Buddhism. The Buddha himself preached against the idea of holding images sacred and for the early centuries of Buddhism the Buddha was not shown. This though I think is less about an insult to the religion as it is about the politicization of religion in Myanmar which has happened in many other places.

    I am going to point out that political Buddhism isn't new and has happened many times throughout the history of Buddhism but it is still troubling to see it.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/af...New-Zealander-2-5-years-Buddha-insult-ad.html

    Myanmar jails New Zealander over Buddha 'insult' ad

    A New Zealand bar manager and his two Myanmar colleagues were jailed for two and a half years with hard labour by a Yangon court Tuesday for using a Buddha image to promote a cheap drinks night.

    The ad posted on Facebook in December caused a stir of outrage in the former junta-ruled country, where surging Buddhist nationalism and religious violence has sparked international concern.

    Philip Blackwood, who worked at the VGastro bar in Yangon, was found guilty of insulting religion along with the bar's Myanmar owner and manager, after the New Zealander posted a mocked-up photo of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones on Facebook — in reference to a well-known international club brand.

    In emotional scenes after the verdict, family members of the two Myanmar defendants expressed shock and fury at the sentencing, with the mother of one exchanging barbs with a handful of nationalist monks waiting outside.

    The case has been watched closely by international observers amid fears that the Buddhist-majority country, which has seen a surge in foreign investment since it began emerging from the grip of the military in 2011, is seeing its much-lauded reforms stalling.

    Blackwood, who has a seven month old daughter, along with 40-year-old bar owner Tun Thurein and manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, 26, have been held in Yangon's notorious Insein prison since their arrest in December.

    The trio, who all denied the charges, were sentenced to two years in jail for insulting religion through written word or pictures and a further six months for breaching local authority regulations. Both offences carry the punishment of hard labour.

    They were also held responsible for protests that erupted outside the bar over the image.

    - 'Intentional plot' -

    Judge Ye Lwin said that while Blackwood, 32, had posted an apology, he had "intentionally plotted to insult religious belief" when he uploaded the photo.

    He added that although the New Zealander had admitted to posting the picture without intending to offend, it was also "unreasonable only to blame the foreigner" when explaining the guilty verdicts for the Myanmar defendants.

    Htut Ko Ko Lwin's mother screamed at a group of monks taking photos with smartphones outside the court after the sentencing.

    The wife of bar owner Tun Thurein said she would consult her lawyer about appealing.

    "They just decided everybody is guilty so I'm very shocked. This is very unfair," Myat Nandar said.

    Blackwood made no comment as he was bundled into the back of a police truck through a scrum of media cameras.

    Speaking to reporters after the ruling, monk Tayza Wunta, of a Myanmar nationalist monks' union, said he did not particularly relish the verdict.

    "I do not want anyone of any nationality to be punished," he said.

    - Communal violence -

    Myanmar has been rocked by several deadly outbreaks of religious violence in recent years, mainly targeting the Muslim minority.

    The bloodshed has coincided with the rising influence of hardline monks, who have advocated controversial new laws. Rights groups say these would severely curb the freedom of religious minorities and women.


    Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said Tuesday's sentences showed "freedom of expression is under greater threat than ever" in Myanmar, which is gearing up for crucial elections later this year.

    "The authorities should accept the heartfelt public apology of the three men, vacate the conviction, and order them to be released immediately and unconditionally," he said in a statement.

    Blackwood's parents told Fairfax Media from their New Zealand home that they were shocked by the decision and their son would consider an appeal.

    "We hoped common sense would prevail and he would be found not guilty because it was not a malicious or intentional act..." said father Brian Blackwood.

    VGastro, a tapas restaurant and nightclub in an upmarket neighbourhood, was shut shortly after the contentious poster came to light, even though management quickly withdrew the ad and apologised for their "ignorance" in using the Buddha's image.
     
  2. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Now for the usual suspects.
     
  3. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    Any laws and people taking offense for "insulting a religion" are ridiculous.
     
  4. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    That's a shame. Buddhism should have nothing to do with politics. Seems like they've lost their way.
     
  5. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

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    Wow, this sounds pretty much against everything Buddha taught.
     
  6. Remii

    Remii Member

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    It says in your post they were sentenced with insulting religion through written word or picture. Maybe that has to do with holding the religion sacred and not the picture.

    Considering there's been tension over there this is probably a reaction to what happened in France.
     
  7. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    The same can be said about Christianity with Jesus and Islam with Muhammad.
     
  8. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Contributing Member

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    There is substantial credible evidence that Muhammad was for censorship and corporal punishment for blasphemy.
     
  9. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

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    There is no buddhist book that tells stories about "holy" figures killing each other like in the bible and quran.
     
  10. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    Burma is an interesting Buddhist country. If I recall properly, in the 60s or 70s, the military took over and the Buddhist monks refuses to accept offering of foods from the Military rulers due to their behaviors. The military actually brought in Buddhist monks from outside to accept their offering. I think this lasted all the way into the 2000s, maybe even still is the case today.
     
  11. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    Just goes to show that religious intolerance is not limited to any one religion and even a religion that teaches tolerance somehow gets distorted.

    Truly religion is the opium of the masses.
     
  12. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    I don't find Buddhism to really be a religion. I don't find it really has the same kind of faith component.
     
  13. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    I don't recall anyone mentioning the bible or koran. Please quote Jesus where he suggest anyone should use violence.
     
  14. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    It doesn't fit the classic definition of religion because there is no god or even super human.

    If it wasn't for all the ceremonies and traditions, it probably fit better with psychology and body mind interaction related fields. Shouldn't be confused with science since it involve personal experience that can't be objectively observed or quantified... as least not by today means.
     
  15. arno_ed

    arno_ed Contributing Member

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    Agreed, ridiculous. I really do not understand these countries with these stupid laws. That being said it is illigal in the Netherlands to insult the royal family.... But that is hardly ever actually uphold. Most comedians insult the royal family pretty regularly.


    Yes lets get off topic and make this a thread about Islam, we do not have enough of these already.
     
    #15 arno_ed, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  16. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    I would figure that happens with any religion in any society where it's the only or one of two games in town, and therefore inextricably linked with communal administration and leadership.
     
  17. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Actually there are stories of the past life of the Buddha where he was a warrior prince who did kill people. Also one of the greatest legends of Tibet is of a Buddhist Monk who killed a King who opposed Buddhism.

    In regards to the view of Buddhism as not being about gods the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path don't deal with deities but different branches of Buddhism do focus quite a bit on deities.
     
  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Yes, that is a good point.
     
  19. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    Continue to derail a bit more...

    So as with all Religion, it changes as it spread and touches people and as different interpretations form or different emphasis are valued, it branches out.

    Buddha do talk about deities and gods and different realms. Buddha was very clear he's not god or deities but just a person that has been awaken. When I said not god, that's what I'm referring to. Mainstream Buddhism have this view. Western Buddhism have even more of this view as it is more of a "clean" version w/o all the rituals/traditions of Eastern Buddhism to a point that they may not view it as a religion but purely as practical practices (Buddhist Christians is a good example... Christians with Buddhist practices). Many Buddhist view Buddha as a teacher and no more than that.

    I have heard of Buddhist sect/branch that do view Buddha as God (my understanding is they view Buddha as ultimately becoming a God --- unknowingly to him that he would be one :)).
     
  20. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    I guess I follow the western version so that skews my reality of Buddhism. I find it very free flowing. In other words, it's not rigidly set on anything that can't be explained logically and it's not threatened by new beliefs. It's just more about mental awareness and mindfulness to me. I do view Buddha as a teacher albeit an incredibly wise teacher.
     

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