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Monastery set ablaze after bulldozing

Narinjara News, March 13, 2008

Kyauktaw, Burma -- A monastery in Kyauktaw Township was set on fire after being bulldozed by army authorities because the abbot of the monastery was involved in the recent Saffron Revolution.

The 79-year-old abbot, Tilawka, told Narinjara News about the incident soon after he arrived in Bangladesh from Burma.

"The army authority set fire to my monastery after bulldozing it for two
reasons. The first reason is that I was involved in the Saffron Revolution
and the second reason is that I accepted four monks, who were also
involved in the revolution, to take shelter in my monastery," the abbot

The monastery that was razed was the Theik Thapon monastery in Theik
Thapon Khami Village near the ancient Mahamuni temple in Kyauktaw
Township, 80 miles north of Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State.

The abbot said, "We all escaped from arrest by the army as we received
information early, before an army platoon reached our monastery. When they reached the monastery, they bulldozed it and set it on fire angrily because they could not arrest any monks from there."

After the incident, the abbot left the area for Bangladesh to seek refuge.
The monk's journey to Bangladesh took nearly six months, and he luckily arrived on Bangladesh soil on 8 March, 2008.

"It was impossible for me to come here wearing my robes, so I came to
Bangladesh dressed as a layperson, but Nasaka forces were looking for me at several monasteries in Maungdaw," the monk said.

A local resident in Maungdaw said that the man who secretly ferried the
monk to Bangladesh in his row boat, Bo Thein Dan, was arrested by
authorities in Aung Bala ward of Maungdaw by authorities on 10 March.

Tilawka has been a monk for 13 years, and is now staying in Bangladesh to seek asylum with the UNHCR office in Dhaka.

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