12/16/2011, 00.00
MYANMAR

Struggle for Democracy, Burmese monk risks expulsion from the order

Ashin Pyinna Thiha branded as "disobedient" by the official committee close to the Burmese government. He supported the opposition movement, organized meetings and discussions, called for "national unity". Yesterday 300 supporters demonstrated outside the gates of the place of worship.
Yangon (AsiaNews) - The official Burmese Buddhist monastic order, supported by the central government, has branded as "disobedient" Ashin Pyinna Thiha and threatens to reduce him to the lay state. He is charged with being guilty of having actively supported the democratic movement in the country, the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and of having turned the monastery into a center of political demonstrations. The news of the potential "humiliation" of the Monk has swept Yangon, raising a wave of protest from residents who yesterday gathered at the gates to show their solidarity.

In recent months, Ashin Pyinna Thiha, from the monastery of Sadhu pariyatti in Kyeemyindine, Yangon, had organized several meetings of a political nature, appreciated and well attended by foreign diplomats. Recently he has also participated in a major celebration for 20th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi and a speech at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Mandalay, calling for "national unity" and end "of injustice."

The NLD intervention dates to last September, but only a few days ago a video was circulated in which he reports that the State Committee Sangha - the Buddhist authorities close to the Burmese authorities - forbids him to hold public meetings because of his anti-government positions. The 47 members of the Committee believe that Ashin Pyinna Thiha has violated the rules of the monastic community and should be removed from the order.

At the moment he is still a guest of the monastery in Yangon, outside the building yesterday a crowd of 300 supporters of the monk rallied, including some NLD leaders, in support of Ashin Pyinna Thiha and to protest against the possibility of his removal.

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