|Vice President Henry Van Thio (Photo: Swe Win/ Myanmar Now)|
By Aung Kyaw Min
March 17, 2016
Buddhist nationalists have applied for permission to hold a protest in Yangon against the appointment of Henry Van Thio, an ethnic Chin and a Christian, as vice president.
The nomination of the hitherto unknown National League for Democracy MP came as a surprise to most last week, but the decision was widely welcomed by ethnic minority groups and political commentators as a step in the direction of national reconciliation. Extreme nationalist Buddhists, who have been advocating the protection of “race and religion”, have however not accepted the NLD leader’s choice.
“We can’t accept that someone from another religion has been appointed vice president. We won’t be silent. We will request in a democratic manner for him to be taken off [the position],” said U Agga Dhamma, founder of the Buddha Goenyi protection organisation which was established in 2012 and is based in a village in Hmawbi township near Yangon.
U Agga Dhamma said he would request that the constitution be amended so that only Buddhists could be appointed president.
He said the demonstration would be organised in cooperation with the ultra-nationalist 969 movement but not Ma Ba Tha – the Committee to Protect Race and Religion.
“Firstly I aimed to hold a single demonstration in Mahabandoola Park before the election in the hluttaw, but when I told my friend he suggested I plan it this way,” U Agga Dhamma said.
The monk said he thought that he would be granted permission to protest at the Bo Sein Hman Grounds in Bahan township or the Kyaikkasan sports grounds in Tarmwe township. He plans to hold the demonstration before the end of March, possibly within a week.