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Myanmar Military Chief Under Fire Following Donation to Buddhist Ultranationalist Group

Military chief of Myanmar’s Yangon region has donated nearly U.S. $20,000 to the country’s leading Buddhist ultranationalist organization, drawing condemnation from observers who say the group’s activities are “hindering national progress” in the fledgling democracy. Major General That Pon, head of the Yangon region military command, joined some 1,000 monks at the headquarters of the Buddha Dhamma Prahita Foundation in Yangon’s Insein township on Monday for the group’s annual meeting, during which he made a contribution of 30 million kyats (U.S. $19,630) on behalf of his division. Senior monks from the foundation—formerly known as the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, or Ma Ba Tha, until the government banned the use of the name in 2017—railed against the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) at the meeting over its handling of the conflict with Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, suggesting it had “tarnished the reputation” of Myanmar and its majority Buddhist religion.................

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