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Burmese Buddhist Monks Outcasts in their Own Country

By Shah Paung, The Irrawaddy, December 3, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- Burma is a Buddhist country. But, under this military government, it no longer offers a place or security for Buddhist monks.

This was confirmed again by the latest cruel action by the regime in closing Rangoon’s Maggin monastery and evicting its monks, lay people and the HIV/AIDS patients in its treatment center and hospice.

Among the nine evicted monks was 80-year-old U Nandiya, father of the monastery’s abbot, U Indaka, a former political prisoner detained once more in an unknown location.

U Nandiya is also being detained by the Burmese authorities, and it’s reported that he will be sent back to his home town, Myothit, in Taungdwingyi Township, Magwe Division. Three novices will also reportedly be sent home. A member of the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee, the official council of monks, will accompany them. 

The monastery’s six HIV/AIDS patients are being cared for in a “safe house” staffed by volunteers of a group led by Phyu Phyu Thin until she was forced to flee and go into hiding from the authorities.

According to the 88 Generation Students group, U Nandiya is been held under guard at Maha Theik Pan Kyaung in Rangoon’s Yankin Township of Rangoon.

The group said that on Sunday the authorities also arrest a lay person, Aung Zaw Win, when he inquired about the fate of the evicted monks.

The crackdown on Buddhist monks, in which more than 3,000 were arrested during and after the September demonstrations, is clearly continuing. Several monks reportedly died in the crackdown and many are still in prison.

The authorities are now reported to be hunting down monks who are following a call by the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks for a boycott of the annual state-run examinations. The boycott is intended to show solidarity with the monks who participated in the September demonstrations.

Soe Tun, a member of the 88 Generation Students group, said from his hiding place:  “Our religion and our entire nation have been insulted [by the regime actions].”

He also accused the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee of failing in its duty to tackle problems arising in relations between the monasteries and the state.

“From village to national level, the Sangha Mahanayaka has a duty here, but now it only follows government orders,” Soe Tun said.

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