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Myanmar’s Military Government Unveils Giant Seated Buddha Statue


The military government of Myanmar unveiled a new statue of the Buddha on 21 July. The statue will be consecrated on 1 August on a 92-hectare site in the capital Naypyitaw. The scuplture is more than 19 meters in height, making it nearly four meters taller than the great Buddha statue at Todai-ji in Japan and possibly the tallest in the world.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of Myanmar’s military and the de facto head of government, is the project’s patron and has supervised much of the project installation. Alongside the statue are several small pagodas, ordination halls, rest houses, water fountains, lakes, and a park.  

Hlaing said the new Buddha image in Naypyitaw was intended “to show the flourishing of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar, to be Myanmar as a focal point of Theravada Buddhism, ensure prosperity of the country, and contribute to peace and stability of the world.” (ABC News)

The statue, including its throne, is approximately 24.7 meters in total height. It weighs more than 5,000 tonnes, according to state-run media, and is carved in the style of the Yadanabon dynasty of the 18th and 19th centuries, the last dynasty in power before British colonial rule.

Due to ongoing insurgencies lasting back to Mynamar’s independence from Britain in 1948, the country is considered to be home to the world’s longest ongoing civil war. Aung San Suu Kyi, a British-educated politician and dissident, has spent little time in government but several decades of her life under house arrest and in prison.

Suu Kyi came to prominence in the 8888 uprising, so named because it took place on and around 8 August 1988, with several months of protests, marches, strikes, and riots across the country, all pushing for democracy. When elections were held in 1990, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won 81 per cent of the seats in government. However, the military government refused to accept the election results, arresting Suu Kyi and continuing its single-party dictatorship.

Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in 2010, ushering in a period of optimism for many in Myanmar. She went on to win a seat in parliament in 2012 and for nearly 10 years, she held a precarious role as a member of the government, which was still dominated by military rule.

On 1 February 2021, Suu Kyi was again arrested, along with other leaders from her National League for Democracy party, as the military government once again seized total control over the country. Over the last two years, pro-democracy groups around the country have fought against the military government, leading at times to intense and bloody battles.


Despite international condemnation from the Buddhist community and global leaders, there is no end in sight to military rule in Myanmar. Internally, many monastics have been vocally opposed to the government, with some dying in attacks and others detained by the military.

Myanmar’s population is about 90.1 per cent Buddhist, according to 2016 census data. Christians make up 6.2 per cent, Muslims 2.4 per cent, Hindus account for 0.5 per cent of the population, with a final 0.5 per cent adhering to tribal and other religious traditions.

See more

Myanmar’s generals unveil giant Buddha statue as they seek to win hearts and minds during civil war (ABC News)
Myanmar’s generals unveil giant Buddha statue as they seek to win hearts and minds during civil war (AP)
Watch: Myanmar builds giant Buddha statue (The Economic Times)
Myanmar military unveils giant Buddha statue (NHK World Japan)
Burma’s military government unveils giant sitting Buddha statue amid ongoing civil war and turmoil (Fox News)
David Miliband: How to Bring Peace to the World’s Longest Civil War (Time)

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