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Authorities order closure of Maggin Monastery

Source: Mizzima News, The Buddhist Channel, Dec 1, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- The Burmese military junta has ordered the closure of a prominent Buddhist monastery in Rangoon by Thursday, activist sources said.

Maggin monastery, which also houses HIV patients who come from outside Rangoon for treatment, was ordered to be closed down by authorities latest by Thursday 4 p.m. (local time), according to the a Thailand based activists group, Asia-Pacific Peoples Partnership on Burma.

Khin Ohnmar, coordinator of the APPPB, in her email message to Mizzima today, said authorities in Rangoon last week ordered those living in the Maggin monastery, including monks, novices and HIV patients, to leave the precincts.

Authorities on Wednesday came again to the monastery and ordered all residents to leave the precincts saying the monastery is to be sealed off today, Ohnmar added.

"This morning around 8 a.m. (local time), the authorities came and ordered all residents to leave. The monks pleaded with the authorities to help them find another place to stay, but the authorities refused," Ohnmar said.

With HIV patients, who were taking refuge in the monastery, moving out to another place after last week's order, only a senior monk, who is the father of a detained abbot, with another monk, six novices, and two laymen who take care of errands at the monastery, are still there.

The monks and novices, desperate to find a place to move, requested the authorities to allow them to stay another two weeks while they figure out where they will move.

"The authorities agreed to put forward their appeal to their superiors," Ohnmar said.

Meanwhile, the two monks from the monastery went to five different places to find an explanation as to why the authorities wanted to seal-off the monastery as well as to appeal to relevant authorities.

The monks went to their senior monks in three monasteries including Ka-Ba-Aye Temple as well as Rangoon Division and Thingangyun Township religious administration offices.

However, all these places refused their appeal and most senior monks said they are helpless as it was the decision of the state authorities.

But senior monks from the Ka-Ba-Aye temple offered the monks a place to stay in their monastery if they wanted to and suggested they send the sic novices, who are orphans, back to their native towns, Ohnmar added.

To the surprise of the two monks, upon their arrival at the Maggin monastery, authorities came back and informed the monks that the monastery will be seal-off tomorrow.

"When the monks returned to Maggin, the authorities said they will come back by tomorrow 4 p.m. and wanted to see the monastery under lock and key," Ohnmar added.

Maggin Monastery has been raided four times since the monk-led protests in September. The abbot of the monastery, U Indaka, a former political prisoner, was arrested following the protest and is still being detained at an unknown location.

U Indaka, was arrested in 1990, and sentenced to five years in prsion when authorities conducted raids on monasteries in Mandalay after the monks declared a boycott of alms from members of the military regime. He was forcibly disrobed during his arrest. However, he returned to the monastery as an abbot after he was released in 1994.

Maggin Monastery is famous for its hospitality in sheltering HIV/AIDS patients who come to Rangoon to receive treatment. Following the arrest of monks from the monastery after the September protests, all patients were transferred to the Wai Bar Gi Infectious Diseases Hospital in North Okkalapa Township.

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