Burma Arrests Buddhist Activist Nun

Radio Free Asia, July 27, 2005

Washington, DC (USA) -- The Burmese authorities have arrested a Buddhist nun who returned to Rangoon for an international conference and charged her with religious offenses, her associates say.

Daw Thissawaddy, 40, had been studying for a Ph.D in religious philosophy in Sri Lanka and been ordained there as a female monk, or bikkhu, a fellow nun told RFA's Burmese service.

She was detained after returning to the Burmese capital, Rangoon, in December 2004 to attend the World Buddhist Summit, attended by Buddhists from all over the world.

Details of her case are few, and no information was available from Burmese government officials.

"She went back [to Burma] because she wanted to attend the conference," former fellow nun Daw Uttama said in an interview. "When she got there, they didn't allow her to attend it. She wasn't given permission."

Daw Thissawaddy remained in Burma because her father was ill, Daw Uttama said. She was summoned for questioning by the government-backed supreme council of Buddhist monks, the Sangha Nayaka Council.

Held for 'religious offenses'

She was detained May 27, Daw Uttama said, and charged under Section 295 and 295 (a) of Burma's criminal code. Section 295 relates to "abusing religion" while 295a addresses "desecration of religious buildings and property."

"We were told that she got arrested on May 27 after her father died. The latest news we got was that she would have to go to court," Daw Uttama told RFA.

"I don't remember whether it would be her third or her fourth time. She would have to go to court for the trial. We haven't heard anything since. We haven't received any letters from her," she said.

Sources said Daw Thissawaddy had previously written to the Sangha Nayaka Council asking for the practice of female monks?known as bikkhu and accepted in Sri Lankan traditions of Theravada Buddhism?to be reinstated in Burma, citing historical precedents.

Bikkhu was a name given to followers of the Buddha during his lifetime, without regard to the person?s gender. Later traditions evolved into separate monastic traditions for Buddhist monks and nuns, with nuns generally accorded a lower status and barred from leading others in religious activities.

A Sri Lankan tradition

As a friend of Daw Thissawaddy said: "The term bikkhu is not accepted in Burma, but [in Sri Lanka] it's like a female Buddhist monk. They have to follow the code of conduct...similar to the monks. And so even though it's accepted in Sri Lanka, it's not accepted in Burma."

U.S.-based scholar Paw Tun, Daw Thissawaddy's doctoral dissertation adviser, said her ordination as a bikkhu nun was seen by Burma's ruling junta as a powerful and provocative statement that could stir dissent among Burmese women.

"The Sangha Nayaka Council charged her with stirring up women," Paw Tun told RFA. "One of the charges is that Western countries are pulling her strings, so that she will stir up women and cause unrest in the country. The second charge is that she is threatening the integrity of the Sanghas in Burma."

Paw Tun said the authorities were forced to use trumped-up charges under the criminal code after they found insufficient evidence to charge her under the rules of the Sangha Nayaka Council.

"There's no reason for the Sangha Nayaka Council to do anything to her. But in order to keep her quiet, they had to turn to politics and say that she was stirring up trouble and disturbing law and order in the country," he said. "That's why they charged her under Section 295."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv