RANGOON — A Buddhist monk found dead in Arakan State’s Mrauk-U Township on Monday is believed to have committed suicide, local police said, although an investigation is ongoing.
Ba San, a police officer in Mrauk-U, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the 67-year-old monk, who reportedly lived alone in a small monastery, had what appeared to be knife wounds to the neck.
The deceased, Khanti Sara, had been a practicing monk for 14 years.
“We have not seen anything yet indicating someone else killed him. The monk stayed alone at his monastery. For us, we believe that he committed suicide,” Ba San said.
The officer, who confirmed a police investigation was continuing, said the front gate leading to the monastery was usually closed and it was rare to see people heading in and out.
Following the monk’s death, some locals have raised concerns over the sensitive case in light of recent bouts of communal violence in Arakan State since mid-2012.
Kyaw Kyaw, an Arakan National Party lawmaker for Mrauk-U—one of several townships rocked by a second major wave of sectarian violence in October 2012—said Buddhist monks had met in the town on Tuesday to discuss the investigation into the monk’s death.
“I feel very sad. I just heard about it yesterday after I came back from our election campaign,” Kyaw Kyaw said, adding that he knew the monk who came to collect alms each morning by his house.
Violence in the coastal state in 2012 between Buddhist and Muslim communities led to the displacement of some 140,000 people, the majority of whom were Muslim Rohingya, a stateless minority that has endured decades of discrimination.