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The Network of Monks and Laypersons in the Process of Organizing Ma Ba Tha

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 116


In late September 2015, the Myanmar Federal Parliament passed the last two of four laws pertaining to the ‘protection of race and religion’, which Ma Ba Tha had been promoting. Following that, there was a huge celebration at Thuwunna Stadium on October 4, 2015, which visibly mobilized more than twenty thousand monks, nuns, and lay people including ethnic minority groups. In 2013, Ma Ba Tha was organized within a short term and they collected 1.3 million signatures swiftly. The paper examines how Ma Ba Tha as a Buddhist organization was formed, the premises on which it was organized, and why it was able to mobilize monks and nuns as well as lay people from all walks of life. During the regime of the late military government, many religious associations were formed and people engaged in social welfare activities in the area of education, environment, and medical treatment. I focus on some of these groups that took part in the recent Ma Ba Tha activities and consider how ordinary Myanmar Buddhists became actively involved in the recent political movement.