AA Abducts Two Monks, Two Novices From Monasteries in Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Abbot

By Lei Lei 21 August 2020

YANGON—The Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic armed group engaged in active fighting with the Myanmar military, has abducted two Buddhist monks and two novices in Mrauk-U Township of Rakhine State in western Myanmar, according to local residents.

The AA abducted U Wunna Thara, the abbot of Myo Oo Kaung Monastery; U Dhamma Piya, the abbot of Shwe Si Wa Monastery; and two novices in Let Kauk Zay Ward in Mrauk-U at midnight on Tuesday for allegedly recruiting for the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), according to U Kay Ya Wuntha, the abbot of La Kyi Taung Monastery in the same ward.

Based along Myanmar’s borders with Bangladesh and India, the ALP and its armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Army, are an ethnic Rakhine revolutionary group formed in 1967 to fight for equality for the ethnic group. The ALP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015 and is participating in the peace process.

“This is the first time monks have been abducted by the AA—and they were abducted from monasteries in urban areas. Laypeople at the monasteries said the monks were abducted by the AA,” U Kay Ya Wuntha told The Irrawaddy.

A layperson at Myo Oo Kaung Monastery who witnessed the abduction told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity that seven people wearing plain clothes blindfolded the monks and took them away, and also searched the room of U Wunna Thara.

“The abbot’s mother and children were [boarding] at the monastery. But no one dared say anything as [the abductors] were holding sticks and knives. They tied the monks up and took them away,” the layperson said.

“It is not good that monks were taken during Vassa. If they want to interrogate them, they can do so after Vassa is over. It is unacceptable as it is now Vassa,” U Kay Ya Wuntha said.

Vassa is a three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada Buddhists. It lasts for three lunar months, usually from July to October. Monks remain in one place, typically a monastery or temple grounds, for the duration of Vassa.

As the government has declared the AA a terrorist organization, The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the armed group for a comment.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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