The staff of the Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) are to be evicted from their Yangon office by the owner — a decision made just a day after they had scheduled to host a press conference involving a group of Buddhist monks who are calling for action to be taken against firebrand monk Wirathu.
Speaking to DVB today, MJN secretary Zeyar Hlaing said that they had rented an apartment as office space on 34th Street since 2016. However, the owner abruptly told them this morning that they had to vacate the premises within three weeks.
“The apartment owner previously requested that we did not hold any events related to politics,” he said. “But [despite hosting numerous press conferences], we have had no problems over the past two years. Today the owner said we had to leave within 20 days and that he would refund our deposit.”
A group of ant-hardline monks had arranged to hold a press conference at the MJN office on 25 February. On their invitation letter, they said they would call for legal action to be taken against Ma Ba Tha leader Wirathu, who is notorious for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and for inciting violence.
Ahead of the press conference, a group of Wirathu’s supporters arrived at the MJN office, saying they wanted to hear what was said. The organisers subsequently decided to cancel the event.
“This press conference was meant as an opportunity to explain the situation to reporters, as well as to monks and laymen,” said Myat Kyaw, leader of the Committee against Adharma. “But when a group of nationalist monks and their supporters showed up, we decided it best to cancel the event.”
The Committee against Adharma last year launched a petition denouncing Wirathu and demanding the Sangha, or Buddhist monkhood, take action against him for his discriminatory speeches.
Banned from Facebook, Wirathu recently distributed a video via a third party Facebook account in which he referred to himself as “Kyi Lin’s sayadaw [mentor]”. Kyi Lin is currently on trial for assassinating government adviser Ko Ni, who was a Muslim.