Political Situation in Myanmar (02:41)
There is a constant power struggle between democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military generals. The more than 500,000 monks play an important political role in the country, despite being forbidden to participate.
Influence of Monks (05:27)
Monk Uthaw Bita is dedicated to teaching Buddhism because of the country's political situation. Kyi's rise to power gave the people hope of a better future. Bita speaks openly about politics because of the connections between democracy and Buddhism.
Saffron Revolution (03:24)
Monks led the revolution in 2007. The military fired on the group and imprisoned hundreds. Though the revolution failed, it decreased the military's power and Myanmar opened to market and consumer societies.
Interdependent Society (10:05)
The monks and the Burmese people depend on each other. Many poor families send children to the monastic school. Monk Uwar Lay travels to rural areas of the country to spread Buddhism.
Missionary Department (04:22)
The military supports the monks' mission work. One of the department's missions is to convert Christians to Buddhism. The military supports Buddhism because it is the religion of the Bamar people, the largest ethnic group in the country.
Conversion Ceremony (04:17)
Lay converts a large group of villagers from the Chin ethnic minority to Buddhism. The ceremony is partially conducted in secret to not alert Christian authorities.
Religious Persecution in Myanmar (08:16)
The military government targets the Muslim Rohingya community near the border of Bangladesh. After clashes with Buddhist residents, much of the community migrated to neighboring countries. Groups of nationalist monks used social media and other tactics to target the Muslim population.
Burmese Government Operations (04:23)
The treatment of the Rohingya drew national attention to Myanmar and Kyi has been blamed. Her supporters blame the military. Kyi's attempts to support to Rohingya faced push back from the military and nationalist monks.
Nationalist Monks (05:27)
The popularity of groups such as the Ma Ba Tha has increased the spread of Islamophobia in Myanmar. The group claims they are protecting Myanmar and Buddhism.
Buddhist Teachings in Myanmar (03:43)
Many people in rural areas fear Myanmar will become a Muslim country if Kyi remains in power. Bita believes spreading Buddhism is his best weapon against Islamophobia and nationalist monks.
Credits: Burma, the Power of Monks (00:39)
Credits: Burma, the Power of Monks
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