11/30/2007, 00.00
MYANMAR

Junta shuts down monastery close to pro-democracy movement

Authorities clear the Maggin monastery, near Yangon, of its few remaining monks, who are moved to a nearby pagoda. Its abbot and several resident monks are still in jail for backing protests in late September. A well-known activist slams the generals for their hypocrisy.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s military regime continues to blatantly crack down on Buddhist monks, guilty in its eyes for last September anti-government protests. The authorities have in fact ordered the closure of the Maggin monastery in Thingangyun, a town close to Yangon. The resident two monks, six novices and two laymen are now homeless, but Mizzima News reports that they momentarily found shelter at the Kaba Aye pagoda.

After issuing several warning during the week, the military yesterday evacuated the monastery around 4 pm. Eyewitnesses said they saw more soldiers around the building as well as the arrival of two military trucks.

Sources told AsiaNews that the monastery is thought to be close to the National League for democracy led by Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for many years.

The Maggin monastery is well-known for accepting people with HIV-AIDS who come from Yangon for treatment. All its patients were moved to the Wai Bar Gi Infectious Diseases Hospital in North Okkalapa Township, not far from Myanmar’s former capital of Yangon.

In September soldiers raided the place four times. Abbot U Indaka, a former political prisoner, is still detained in an unknown location. Other Maggin monks are also in jail in relation to the September protests.

Quoting Bo Kyi, an activist and co-secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), The Irrawaddy singled out the junta’s hypocrisy.

After meeting with the UN Special Envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, the government announced that arrests and the crackdown were over. “But crackdowns and arrests are going on,” Bo Kyi said, “and these kinds of acts do not create a good environment for national reconciliation and democratic transitions.”

A few days ago the All-Burmese Monks Alliance (ABMA), which spearheaded the September protests, called for an investigation into the fate of monks who are still unaccounted for since the September protests.

Similarly, the ABMA has criticised the National Head Monks Association for not questioning the junta’s claim that there was no violence.

According to ABMA figures, the military raided over 60 monasteries where they beat, arrested and killed many monks.

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