In a closed hearing in Rangoon on Thursday Burmese authorities hit a self-proclaimed Buddhist nationalist with sedition, after anti-Muslim rioting rocked the country for more than a week in late March.
Ye Min Oo, a senior member of the All-Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) who had been missing since 25 March, blasted Thein Sein for punishing people who love their religion and race.
“The president, while claiming we are heading towards democracy, is carrying out plans to oppress people who wish for democracy and love their race and religion and this is not a good sign,” said Ye Min Oo, standing at the steps of the Western Rangoon District Courthouse.
“It shows they are still militant and still can’t give up their habit of bullying people and staging a coup.”
Ye Min Oo, a senior member of the ABFSU, was picked up from a monastery in Rangoon’s Bahan township by two men in plain clothes late last month.
In a Facebook post published earlier this week, the notorious Islamophobic monk Wirathu addressed the arrest of Ye Min Oo and another activist.
According to Wirathu, both men revere 969, a Buddhist nationalist movement that also aims to boycott Muslim businesses, and have helped organise talks for the monk in the past.
The nationalist monk went on to say that their arrests was part of a government ploy to turn 969 followers into scapegoats for the recent bout of anti-Muslim violence that spilled across the country’s central heartland.
“We will continue to use the  symbol of the Three Gems as long as our people exist – with utmost respect,” said Wirathu during an interview published in the Voice newspaper on Wednesday.
“We will continue with the 969 movement forever. If there will be an official specific announcement that the 786 (a reference to Burma’s Muslim community) doesn’t carry out the conspiracy to take over Burma in the 21st century, then we will stop our 969 movement too.”
Ye Min Oo’s next court hearing is scheduled for 23 April.
If convicted of sedition, Ye Min Oo could be fined and sentenced up to seven years in prison.