Naypyidaw Monasteries Torched for New Development

A novice Buddhist monk sits in the Uppatasanti Pagoda in the new Burmese capital Naypyidaw. (Photo: Reuters)

Around 40 monasteries are being burnt to the ground in the Burmese capital Naypyidaw to make way for new development projects.

More than a dozen monasteries have already been destroyed after a government order was received on July 5, said Maj Ko Ko Myint, who is responsible for the demolition process, adding that resident monks were instructed to leave their compounds.

“We have permission from the Sangha Maha Nayaka [government-appointed body of high-ranking Buddhist monks] so it is not our decision,” Ko Ko Myint told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “The Sayadaws [abbots] themselves allowed us to destroy these monasteries.”

A senior commander in the new capital, speaking under condition of anonymity, revealed that the destruction was ordered as the monasteries are located in the way of the government’s Naypyidaw Special Development Project.

Zabuthiri Township Administrator Maj Thwin Ko Ko Win also said that monasteries in Zabuthiri, Oattarathiri, Dekhinathiri and Pyinmana Myo-haung (old city) were considered illegally built and “the Sangha [monks] in these monasteries are not real monks.”

“The monasteries were built by themselves and the monks are not notable ones, they just turned to the monkhood one or two years ago,” he added.

Ko Ko Myint said that 15 monasteries have already been destroyed as they each agreed to accept compensation of 400,000 to 50,000,000 kyat (US $470 to $60,000) as of July 5.

“This is a forest area designated for the project and belongs to the state,” he said. “These monasteries are illegally built therefore we have been asked to destroy them. Around 20 monasteries do not want to move, therefore, it has been made public. We have told the Sangha Maha organization about the situation too.”

Although some monastery buildings due to be torn down remain in place, the local authorities say that they will collaborate with the Sangha organization for their removal if demolition orders are not initially accepted.

But a Sayadaw who resides in Sunamani Monastery in Pyinmana Myo-haung said that he has not received any instructions to move.

“I am also a member of the Sangha Maha Nayaka committee,” he said. “We have heard rumors that there will be an order to destroy them, but I have not had any information. We do not know if the monasteries are to be destroyed.

“If the authorities are working together with the township ministry of religion, it is beyond my knowledge.”

The destroyed monasteries existed for a long time and were built by public donations, added the Sayadaw of Pyinmana Myo-haung, who also said that he has lived there since before Naypyidaw was established as the new capital in 2005.

Another monk in Dekhinathiri Monastery told The Irrawaddy that the accusation that their buildings are illegal is merely an excuse, adding that some monasteries did not get any compensation while others which were inhabited many years ago were only offered a fraction of their true value.

“The monks are facing difficulties where to reside as their places were destroyed,” he said. “If the development project also includes our area we might have to move too, but no news has been heard yet.”

The Irrawaddy reporter Kyaw Kha contributed to this article.

7 Responses to Naypyidaw Monasteries Torched for New Development

  1. Major Ko Ko Myint. The hallmark of Bamar Sit-tut is Out Right Lies. It is an army and army government which however one cheats oneself and says democratic simply because Aung San Suu Kyi says so, cannot and would not stop habitual lies. They tell the isolated soldiers the same thing before they order them to kill the monks, to kill the students and to kill innocent civilians as fake, communists, trouble makers, etc.

    But the biggest lie yet and the most successful is the “parliament”. Accurate name is “Parliament for the Gullible”.

  2. Of course it is different if other religions as Christians, Muslim, Hindu, Jews etc or, but only the religion of ” Money ” from the God of Developer, burn down a Monastery or even 40 in a row, that is not like in Rakhine past weeks. As the same God of ” Money ” burnt down coincident over 11 old markets in Rakhine State oiver the past 12 month s, most on a Saturday and water was not available… as in Thandwe some month s ago. Within 1 or 2 days biggest people arrive, and biggest companies heavy equipment flatten all to a football ground alike,– true evidence never to find, seems to be the main issue always after the fires.
    Of course as more secret these things with the Monasteries in N.P.T. are done, like the above member of Sangha Maha Nayaka committee told this media that he even in his position was never informed, as more stories will come up if it was right or wrong.
    A first public ” Transparent ” show case in all media of such projects would keep the Myanmar Government of President Thein Sein in a better picture,– 2015 is near.
    It is also possible to build around Monsteries, or even include them in these Human Settlement developments – are it not the Humans which like to live near next and in the Monasteries, humans were the ones which built , pay for and make them lively. Most Developers live far away from Monasteries or only on show off functions.
    It is often or mostly that these compounds were once donated by welwishers and there are many legal issues. It looks that many still live in a world before 2010 of Myanmar. Hard to say where it all should go to – Spot all actions and clear in a transparent form who is right and who is wrong as well what is the compensation to be paid. Daewoo also paid for Ma Aung Rakhine Farmers for the land they took for a 16 bed Hospital as the boss told me,- but my friends father – farmer in Ma Aung never got a Kyat from Rakhine Administration or one in charge 3 years ago…. Stop warshipping to much the ” God of Money ” – warship the people and nature in Myanmar they have also value and can increase the value of Myanmar even if well treated . At the end it is also a very weak part of all Myanmar Buddhist people, innocent and simpel, in rural area as N.P.T. still is, they would not have done that with a churche, sinagoge or Mosque ( lets say the last apart of North Rakhine and Sittwe ).

  3. When I visited to Ayudhaya in Thailand, I talked with a Thai monk through a translator. I argued him that Burmese army did not purposely burn the pagodas in this old capital. My reason is, at that time, Burmese army was ordered to retreat to Burma and they had no other choise than torched the capitol. If not when they retreated the enemyies would follow and attacked them. When they burnt down the houses and buildings,unluckily the fire spreaded to the pagodas and moneastries. What I meant was Burmese soldiers, who were Buddhists, might not burn the pagodas purposely. It is in the history. Now, are you sure that the monastries were purposely burnt down for new development? Who could do that, the evils or satan or mar-nat?

  4. The international NGOs which have been barking day and night that the Muslim mosques and Christian churches are burnt in Burma, should take a lesson – that for the Burma’s Tatmadaw Army – there is no religion and the attacks on mosques and churches does not mean the Burmese military is racist or extremist Buddhists. The Burmese Army burn anything that come in their way – irrespective of race or religion, or even skin color.

  5. Naypyidaw would make a good Multi university (Training colleges, trade schools, Buddhism schools etc) in the future when the military are finally gone. It would be one way of repaying the people for gross loss of lives.

    The ‘old faces’ should understand they are hated and reviled, and unwanted. They should start to pray, and make amends without greed, with their families, to the people. If not, they should go quiet and live simply, or go to another nation and enjoy their ill-gotten spoils – and accept the consequences: generations of karma.

    The ‘monasteries’ (with permission from the state controlled Sangha Maha Nayaka) should be left. There has been enough wastage, and they can be used as museums hospitals and much-needed schools.

    Either way, the people want the old faces gone.

  6. So much for the new ‘Buddhist’ govt, defender of the faith etc…. Plus ça change.

    A monk is a monk, whether two days or two years in robes. Pyinmana Myo-haung (meaning old town) monastery set to become not even Kyaung-haung (old monastery) but razed to the ground.

    And we all know deep down what really must be razed to the ground.It’s not a million miles away.

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