The Irrawaddy

Family of Boy Allegedly Beaten by Monk Files Charges with Police

The family of a boy who was hospitalized after being allegedly beaten by a Buddhist monk in Madaya Township has filed charges over the incident, police said.

The attack, which was caught on video, has caused outrage among many members of the general public after the footage was posted on Facebook.

Police Lieutenant Naing Lin, an officer from Madaya, a small town in Pyin Oo Lwin District, Mandalay Region, told The Irrawaddy that the father of the victim had visited police to report how his son, who is in the eighth grade, was severely beaten by a monk at a township monastery.

“He charged that the monk beat his son in violation of Article 325,” which refers to voluntarily causing grievous harm, the police officer said.

Lieutenant Nain Lin said that when the boy, who was identified as Wai Phyo Naing, recovers and is released from hospital, the police will interview him to find out what happened. The police have already sent letters to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and township authorities and asked them to let the police take action against the monk, Ashin Soe.

“Based on legal procedures, if we find the monk has violated the law, we will take action against him,” Lieutenant Naing Lin said.

U Zaw Min Lwin, a Lower House lawmaker from Madaya Township, also confirmed that the father had sought to bring charges against the monk under Article 325.

He said he visited the hospital yesterday to see the victim, who was recovering from his injuries.

The incident 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,” using an old Burmese saying for bad people who say good things.

His friend complained to Ashin Soe, who was staying at a temple inside the monastery grounds. Ashin Soe and several monks then grabbed Wai Phyo Naing.

Video footage that was widely shared on Facebook shows Wai Phyo Naing holding a small bag of mangos as he is hit by the monk.

“Words from an angel coming out of the mouth of a dog. He said that at our monastery. You all heard it, right?” Ashin Soe says to the monks in the footage before he launches into his assault of Wai Phyo Naing.

He then asks the other monks to join him in beating the boy. One monk tries to stop Ashin Soe from hitting the boy, but Ashin Soe punches Wai Phyo Naing in the face. He then drags the youth around by his hair, further torturing him.

“This is a monastic area. Why, why, would you come here and say these things,” Ashin Soe says, before kicking the boy in the head and in his back.

Ashin Soe also hits the victim around the head with a stick several times. Despite the victim apologizing, Ashin Soe continues to strike him.

Many people who saw the video expressed outrage. The footage was posted on April 21 on the same day that Wai Phyo Naing was attacked.

Some Facebook users demanded that the authorities take action against Ashin Soe, who they called a bad monk. Some said the monk’s violent actions had tarnished the image of Buddhism. Others asked what type of monk would beat a boy. According to the principles of Buddhism, monks should show compassion, and they are forbidden from killing, beating or torturing other humans or animals. But, noted several of the Facebook users, some monks who had behaved badly in their lay lives, continued to do so in the monkhood.

In Myanmar, any male can enter the monkhood and stay at a monastery near their village or township. Buddhism is reflected in much of the culture of Myanmar, and remains the dominant religion in the country.

Some families send their sons who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to join the monkhood in the hope that they will shed their bad habits.