Authorities Charge Monks in Dispute With Govt-Backed Clergy

Myanmar Buddhism,

Monks look on Tuesday night as the State Sangha organized a raid to remove U Pyinnya Wuntha’s followers from Maha Thanti Thukha Buddhist monastery in Rangoon. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Authorities in Rangoon’s Tamwe Township charged five Buddhist monks with religious offenses on Friday after they became embroiled in a dispute with the government-backed Buddhist clergy over the ownership of a large Rangoon monastery.

The monks were reportedly disrobed and sent to Insein Prison to await their trial, which could result in a prison sentence.

“It’s true, we brought them to the court, but I don’t’ want to say any more [about this case],” Ye Myo Hein, a police officer involved in the case, said when asked whether the monks had been charged with religious offenses.

Burma’s Penal Code Article 295 to 298 carries provisions that set punishments for acts that insult religious feelings and beliefs, or disturb places of religious worship and assembly. The charges carry fines and prison terms of between one and two years.

U Pamaukkha, a monk who went to the trial at Tamwe Township Court, said, “They were charged with offending religion by the court.

“Five monks, including U Ottara, were forced to change their robes and they were sent to Insein Prison.”

The five were part of a group of seven monks and 32 laymen who were evicted from Rangoon’s Maha Thanti Thukha Buddhist monastery on Tuesday by the government-backed Buddhist clergy, the Sangha Maha Nayaka, and subsequently apprehended. The laymen and two monks were later released.

They are followers of Penang Sayadaw U Pyinnya Wuntha, an 86-year-old abbot who has been involved in a dispute with the State Sangha over the ownership of the monastery since the early 2000s. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has backed the State Sangha in the case and supported the Tuesday raid.

Burma’s former military regime built the large monastery in the late 1990s at a cost of about US$8 million and put U Pyinnya Wuntha in charge, presenting him with legal ownership documents.

But in 2002, after U Pyinnya Wuntha went on a visit abroad, the government claimed it found evidence of corruption at the monastery and it granted control over the building to the State Sangha.

Most of U Pyinnya Wuntha’s followers were forced to leave but a small group was allowed to stay; these last followers were evicted and apprehended by the State Sangha on Tuesday night.

U Pyinnya Wuntha condemned the raid in a phone call from Japan Thursday and claimed he had full ownership over the monastery.

Win Htein, who is a lawyer and a lawmaker in Rangoon Division’s legislature, said it was uncommon for authorities to charge monks under criminal law, as the clergy has its own rules and a special office to resolve disputes between monks.

He said police had failed to give prior warning of the raid, adding that it remains unclear on what grounds the five monks were being charged for offending religion. “There is a special office and a rules handbook for monks when there is a dispute. By bringing monks to a civilian court, police ignore these laws,” said Win Htein.

The open dispute between Buddhist monks and the unusual actions by authorities have fascinated Burma’s predominantly Buddhist public, which deeply revers the clergymen.

U Wirathu, the nationalist monk who is the public figurehead of the 969 movement that has been spreading anti-Islamic messages throughout Burma, has sought to publicly weigh in on the case.

He said he supported the evicted the monks. “They stayed at their own monastery. They were innocent. By putting innocent monks in prison, [the government] will get punishment from all monks in the country,” Wirathu said.

5 Responses to Authorities Charge Monks in Dispute With Govt-Backed Clergy

  1. Fox wants to divide all Buddhist monks into pieces and different levels for his easy ruling. Fox has already declared that DASSK can not participate coming 2015 election so psy wirathus is no more value for fox now. Fox might get support from China to band DASSK for participation in coming election. Fox is able to show in the aspect of killing more Kachin to protect Chinese business in Kachin lands. Fox thinks fox win the political games from various foriegn investments. Fox will allow foreigners first ( oversea Burmese line the last to get PR with the requirements of education and money) to get permanent residents to allow to buy properties in Burma to raise faked economy with the intention of free-lunch from his nargic constitution-principles-can kill, can rape. Fox does not know that if there is no persuasion/trust of Burmese oversea first , no foreigners will come to buy/invest Burmese properties. Fox is dreaming to build a house in the air.

  2. Ha Ha Ha, now the government cannot control U Wirathu.

  3. “Rule of Law” not just running roughshod but running riot in the new “disciplined democracy” called Myanmar. Crony monks being deployed alongside the state security apparatus and fascist strong arm tactics being employed.

    A ‘brave new dawn’ rapidly unveiling to be a distasteful and sacrilegious nightmare with persecution not only of other creeds but their own like a nascent Spanish Inquisition state controlled Burmese Buddhist style. This dastardly act violates custom and tradition. Utterly disgraceful. But when they already have monks’ blood on their hands this would count as nothing.

    Defenders of the faith my foot…. after beating, torturing and killing monks in 2007, still banning sermons, banishing from their monasteries, raiding and rounding them up, disrobing them by force, locking them up….

    Testing and pushing the boundaries of how much they can get away with as far as the ‘international community’ is concerned in order to carry on with trade and investments in light of their new found legitimacy of rule.

    The end is nigh! The public knows they will get their comeuppance sooner or later, hang by the neck if they still have their heads on, and rot in Avici Hell for eternity.

  4. Monks with foreign passport holders were easily bullied by bama military thugs as well. So, UK is paper tiger. Those monks against bama military thugs might be outspoken for demand of real democracy. Fox shows his military strengths to all unarmed ordinary citizens. The next target is inlellectuals like lawyers and etc. Because fox has no university degre so his cruelty and lowborn can rule child soldier Ming sung hlaing, puppet thein sein and unfair opportunitic shwe Mann. Fox is worried that those outspoken monks will support DASSK for aboloishing Nargic 2008 fox casual killing and rapping right.

  5. Either Wirathu has become waste for Burmese Junta or Junta is using him as tool to divide monks in to two groups. By creating 2007 saffron like revolution Burmese cunning foxes Junta will make excuse to take power by force. Junta Than Shwe is cunning and will play all kind of dirty games.

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