Portrait of Myanmar’s ‘Buddhist bin Laden’ chills Cannes

Myanmarís radical Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu is shown in this Sept. 30, 2014 file photo. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Updated 25 May 2017

Portrait of Myanmar’s ‘Buddhist bin Laden’ chills Cannes

CANNES: Barbet Schroeder spent months with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin at the height of his power, when corpses would wash up every morning on the shores of Lake Victoria and Kampala was rife with rumors that he was eating his opponents.
But in his decades of documenting evil, the veteran Swiss filmmaker said he has never been as scared by anyone as he was by a Burmese Buddhist monk named Wirathu.
“I am afraid to call him Wirathu because even his name scares me,” the highly acclaimed director told AFP. “I just call him W.”
“The Venerable W,” his chilling portrait of the monk who has been accused of preaching hate and inciting attacks on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority, has been hailed by critics at the Cannes film festival as a “stirring documentary about ethnic cleansing in action.”
What dismays Schroeder is that Wirathu, whom Time magazine dubbed “The face of Buddhist terror” in a 2013 cover, is utterly unfazed by the chaos and suffering he has unleashed. But the hate speech and fake news that Wirathu spreads from his Mandalay monastery, accusing Muslims — barely four percent of the country’s population — of trying to outbreed the majority Burmese, made Schroeder’s head spin.
This month, Wirathu — who has been called the Buddhist bin Laden — stirred tension by touring Muslim areas in troubled Rakhine State despite Myanmar’s top Buddhist body banning him from preaching in March.


Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

Updated 21 October 2020

Lucky baby anteater escapes birds, falls from tree into care of Australian zoo

  • The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself

SYDNEY: A lucky echidna puggle, or baby spiny anteater, that survived an attack by birds and fell from a tree is taking its first steps as zoo keepers in Australia hand-feed the young mammal.
Members of the public brought the young echidna to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney last month after it fell 4 meters from a tree onto their balcony, somehow escaping becoming supper for the winner of a clash between a raven and a magpie.
“He was lost from his mum and the story is that some people were just sitting on their balcony one nice afternoon and they heard this thud and they looked down and they saw this little guy on the balcony,” said Taronga Zoo Senior Keeper Sarah Male.
“And they’ve looked up into the tree and seen a raven and a magpie there.”
After recovering from scratches and peck marks, the puggle – grey, sharp-nosed and easily held in the palm of one hand – has put on weight and started to develop fur, Male said.
“While the puggle is improving every day, it is still very young and in the wild would still be dependent on mum, so will require ongoing care for the next few months,” she said in an emailed statement.
“I’ve hand-raised lots of animals throughout the years at Taronga but such a young echidna puggle is a new experience.”
The echidna will remain at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital until it grows spines and can feed itself. The zoo said it hasn’t made plans for the animal beyond that.
Echidnas and platypuses are the only two species belonging to the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. Their young are known as puggles.