Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Myanmar's Junta Forcibly De-robed Protesting Monks

Source: Press Trust of India

Myanmar's ruling military junta forcibly de-robed monks who it considered ring leaders of the recent pro-democracy demonstrations and tried to persuade the abbots of monasteries to get rid of dissidents, a media report says.
Quoting diplomats, monks and activists, Newsweek says in its upcoming issue that many monks had been placed under "monastery arrest" and forbidden to leave campuses except to collect alms.

A 26-year-old monk who was detained by the junta said for the first 15 days, no latrines or bathing facilities were provided.

Interrogations were basic: "We were mainly asked, 'Did you participate in the protests? Why? Who is the leading monk in these protests?'" the monk said.

Soldiers then brought in Sangha nayakas' Buddhist officials authorised to convert monks to laypeople. The nayakas refused to recite the appropriate scripture, so the soldiers simply forced the monks to don civilian dress and pronounced them laymen. "I took my vows a long time ago," says the defiant monk, still wearing his prison-issue flip-flops.

"I felt angry to be forced to change my clothes, but I was still a monk." Some "terrified" monks have fled to the countryside or to neighbouring countries including Thailand and China.

"The monasteries in my neighborhood seem empty," a monk who was jailed for 19 days is quoted as saying. "In my monastery, we used to have 100. Now we're down to about 31. I can feel the silence."

Note: FP has earlier reported on these issues.

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