Prominent Myanmar Monk Disappears After Being Detained by Regime Forces

By The Irrawaddy 11 March 2023

Six days after a notorious Myanmar junta task force detained senior monk Sayadaw Agga Wuntha, the leader of the Pyigyitagon anti-dictatorship strike group, and five other men in a Sagaing Region raid, their fate remains unknown.

Pyigyitagon Sayadaw and civilians protesting.

All six were seized in the early hours of last Sunday morning when around 100 regime soldiers previously responsible for a massacre of villagers raided Lak Ka Pin Village in Sagaing’s Myinmu Township.

Three civilians were killed in the raid and over 100 villagers were also detained. Junta soldiers looted the village, before releasing the villagers the next day, according to the Myinmu People’s Defense Force (PDF). The corpse of one of the victims was found in the Ayeyarwady River on March 9.

Sayadaw Agga Wuntha is a prominent Mandalay monk and has been charged with incitement by the military regime for protesting the 2021 coup.

Junta forces previously raided Mandalay’s Seittathukha Ruby Monastery three times in search of Sayadaw Agga Wuntha, arresting at least five people in their raids.

However, the monk had already departed Mandalay for Sagaing, where he has been helping people displaced by fighting between regime forces and the resistance.

The junta task force which carried out last Sunday’s raid is the same one that committed a massacre in early March in Tar Taing Village, Myinmu Township. The task force’s terror tactics has resulted in it becoming known as the ‘Ogre Column’ among locals.

In a series of raids from February 23 to March 5 in Ayadaw, Myinmu and Sagaing townships in Sagaing, the task force under the Myanmar military’s Division 99 killed and beheaded 20 resistance members and massacred 16 civilian detainees, including three women who were raped before being killed.

“It is a very worrying situation for those who have been arrested. This column committed a very inhumane act in the region,” a Myinmu-PDF spokesperson told The Irrawaddy.

A Mandalay protest leader said that the whereabouts of Sayadaw Agga Wuntha and the other five detainees is still unknown.

The task force departed from Lak Ka Pin Village on the evening of March 7 and the monk and other detainees were seen the following day in Phoe Ma Kyi Kin Village. The task force then traveled to Alakapa Village, but its current location is unknown. All three villages are on the Monywa-Mandalay Road.

The Myinmu-PDF spokesperson said: “The junta troops left Alakapa Village on the way to Win Pyae Village but haven’t arrived there. They are hidden somewhere between the two villages.”