Junta Spies Posing as Monks, Nuns Among Myanmar Detainees in Thailand

By The Irrawaddy 30 August 2022

Alleged spies sent by the Myanmar military regime were among 38 Myanmar people arrested at a Buddhist monastery at the Thabarwa Dhamma Center in Mae Pa, near Mae Sot in Thailand’s Tak Province, Thai media reported, citing a statement from Thai authorities.

On Monday, Mae Sot authorities raided the monastery in Mae Pa. In the three-story building, people posing as monks and nuns were found among 38 Myanmar nationals. None had legal documents to stay in Thailand, according to Matichon newspaper.

According to the Thai authorities’ investigation, the fake monks and the nuns were spies sent by the Myanmar regime to investigate anti-junta activities in Mae Sot. They reportedly admitted traveling to Bangkok to investigate the activities of groups opposed to the Myanmar military regime, which staged a coup in 2021. Pictures taken during the arrest show that at least one woman with the appearance of a nun was among the detainees while at least eight men had been disrobed.

The monastery has its base in Yangon and is known as being close to the regime. The center in Mae Pa was opened in April last year “to support some migrant Myanmar people in Mae Sot.” However, given its affiliation with the junta, many Myanmar people in Mae Sot shun it.

Thousands of Myanmar activists, dissidents and ousted government officials and lawmakers have fled to neighboring countries including Thailand and India. Many have remained in Thai towns on the Myanmar border, including Mae Sot.

Thai news reported officials as saying that those arrested would be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

During the previous Myanmar military regime, the junta also sent undercover agents to Thailand to gather information on pro-democracy forces active there.