As the COVID-19 pandemic is getting out of control in Myanmar due to the lack of vaccines and medical equipment, the country’s junta urged its citizens to recite Buddhist verses to keep the virus away. “What people need is oxygen, and not the verse,” a Buddhist monk criticized.
According to the local media The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, a public notice was published by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture in the junta’s mouthpiece newspapers. In the notice, citizens were urged to recite daily in their homes the Ratana Sutta, a Buddhist discourse that followers believe can offset the effects of famine and disease. In addition, it requested the region- and state-level Buddhist authorities to instruct township-level Buddhist authorities to recite Buddhist verses in line with COVID-19 regulations in their respective wards, villages, and townships.
According to The Irrawaddy, the request came a month after junta troops swore and beat Buddhist monks who were condemning the military regime and reciting verses in Mandalay, the second biggest city of the country. The regime, which was suppressing monks, is now asking them to help with its recitation campaign. “In Buddhism, to abstain from killing living creatures is the most important moral precept. After killing more than 900 people, including dozens of children, since its coup in February, the military regime has been urging the people to take refuge in Buddha,” said The Irrawaddy.
According to the Ministry of Health of Myanmar, 5,860 new patients with 286 deaths were reported on Monday alone. Most of the dead did not receive medical oxygen. Myanmar’s democratic camp argues that the actual numbers of patients and deaths are a lot higher than what the military regime announced. “It is estimated that the actual daily numbers of new patients and deaths are over 20,000 and 1,000, respectively, according to data,” the National Unity Government of Myanmar, a provisional government of the democratic side, said to Radio Free Asia.
Eun-Taek Lee firstname.lastname@example.org