MANDALAY/YANGON — A Buddhist monk being sued for the assault of a 14-year-old boy in Mandalay Region has admitted to beating the child but countersued the boy’s family for insulting religion.
The father of the boy sued the monk, U Thu Siri Ya, for beating his son, Wai Phyo Naing, at a monastery in Madaya Township in April under Article 325 of the Penal Code, which covers causing voluntary grievous harm.
A township court held its first hearing in the case on Thursday, taking testimony from the boy and two of his aunts, Judge U Win Myint Soe told The Irrawaddy later that day.
He said U Thu Siri Ya also filed suit against the aunts, along with four other relatives due to testify on June 14, for insulting religion under Article 294. Judge U Win Myint Soe said any lawsuit against the boy should be filed with the juvenile courts.
Contacted on Thursday after the hearing, U Thu Siri Ya said he beat the boy to teach him to behave and that he was not familiar with human rights principles. But if he broke the law, he said, he would accept the consequences.
The monk also claimed that two women from the boy’s family came to the monastery where he assaulted Wai Phyo Naing and threatened to beat him.
Wai Phyo Naing’s mother, Daw San Noi, said she was surprised by the monk’s countersuit.
“He beat to kill my son, yet he is accusing us to punish us. My mind can’t bear it,” she said.
The attack occurred after Wai Phyo Naing entered the monastery grounds to collect mangos with a friend. Teasing his friend he said his words were like those “from an angel that came from the mouth of a dog,” an old Burmese saying for bad people who say nice things. Wai Phyo Naing’s friend then complained to the monk.
Video footage widely shared on Facebook shows U Thu Siri Ya beating Wai Phyo Naing for using bad words at a monastery and has drawn heavy rebuke of the monk.
The family sued U Thu Siri Ya in late April, soon after the assault. But the case has been delayed by rules requiring the prosecutor to seek approval to sue a monk from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Only then could police bring the monk to court.