Blasphemy and Human Rights Violations in Myanmar???

There are loads of Human Rights violations in the name of blasphemy in Myanmar. Some people were sentenced behind bars just for decorating with Buddha statues. Some scholars were suppressed and sentence behind bars simply because they don’t follow the conventional ways of  thinking over the religious scriptures.

Some examples of such cases are as follow:

After being a novice Theravada Buddhist nun for 16 years, Saccavadi made the decision to study for a further degree in Buddhist Literature at a university in Sri Lanka, long a cradle of Theravada Buddhism. The former Burmese nun Saccavadi, who was ordained as a Bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka in 2003, was accused and jailed in Burma some years ago simply because she considered herself as a Bhikkhuni which is not acceptable by the Myanmar Buddhist monastery authorities depsite of her official ordination of Bhikkhuni title by Sri Lanka Theravada tradition . [3] [4]

In Myanmar, Bhikkhuni are no longer in existence but nuns are. Technically, Bhikkhuni are the official female monks who devote their whole life to Buddha teaching where as nuns are just unofficial religious servants who are managed and controlled by patriarchal male monks. In the simplest term. Bhikkhuni and male monks have somewhat nearly the same levels of ordination but nuns are not, thus mostly manipulated and dominant by male monks.

A court in Myanmar recently sentenced 32-year-old Phillip Blackwood, a tapas bar and lounge manager from New Zealand, and two of his business associates, 40-year-old Tun Thurein and 26-year-old Htut Ko Ko Lwin to two years and six months in prison after finding them guilty of having insulted Buddhism.  All of these actions are simply because of a deejay-like Buddha picture since it offended as many believers in the country possibly because it’s seen as warping the perception of Buddha’s general meditative and peaceful appeal. [5] [6]

Dhammavihari Shin Nyarna was subsequently imprisoned for 3 years simply due to his unorthodox ways of understanding on Buddha’s teaching. After completing his jail term, he continued to teach his views.  He rejected the traditional Theravada narrative concepts of hell, heaven, nibbāna or samsāra based on belief in life beyond death. Due to his continuation of his way of understanding Buddha’s teaching, Venerable U Nyar Na was again sentenced to prison by the government for 10 years. In total, he spent more than 33 years of his life just for having an unconventional way of understanding the religious scripture by the light of science. [7]

Shin Ukkaha who also is a pioneer monk who was really good at comparative studies of religions with sceptic views was also sentenced to prison by the Autocracy of Myanmar Theravada Buddhist. [7]

In my opinion, Shin Ukkaha and his teachings are mostly backed by the scientific theories and books. He is the first monk who introduced the “The Evolution Theory” to the Myanmar society. Moreover, he also is the one who translated books of “Rhys Davids“, “Edwin Arnold” and other fellow popular authors during his decade. Moreover, the ideology of Shin Ukkaha resembles some renounced Buddhist secularists like “Taisen Deshimaru“, “Kodo Sawaki” and “Dogen of Zen“.  Moreover, I, as a strong atheist and anti-religious seeker, strongly believe that the teaching of Shin Ukkaha is the 19 century version of “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist of Stephen Batchelor” which includes the rejection of the concepts of hell, heaven, nibbāna or samsāra. The only difference is that Stephen Batchelor was praised by many universities and liberal communities whereas Shin Ukkaha was sentenced to jail for his views.

Yet now, the teachings and insights of Shin Ukkaha and Dhammavihari Shin Nyarna which are somehow compatible with skepticism, atheism and science are being censored for the official publishing. The book publishers are still endangered and threatened by the accusation to “Blasphemous behavior”.


3. The Buddhist Review : TRICYCLE, “The Story of One Burmese Nun : The story of a Burmese nun persecuted because of her choice to ordain,” Spring 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 25 April 2020].
4. Samita ASBL, “Bhikkhuni ordination and Burmese politics,” 27 Jan 2017. [Online]. Available: Bhikkhuni ordination and Burmese politics. [Accessed 25 April 2020].
5. Atheist Republic, “Myanmar Jails Trio for Using Buddha’s Image to Promote a Bar Event,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 25 April 2020].
6. BBC News, “Myanmar court finds trio guilty of insulting religion,” 17 March 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 25 April 2020].
7. Ashin Janaka, “Die-Human, Born Human – The Life and Posthumous Trial of Shin Ukkaha, a pioneering Burmese monk,” Phd Thesis, King’s College London, London, 2020.

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