08/17/2021, 13.10
MYANMAR
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Military recruiting monks for checkpoints in Mandalay

The decision is meant to prevent anti-coup fighters from attacking soldiers at checkpoints. A Myanmar Buddhist organisation endorsed the decision but back in March it had condemned the military’s violence. Since the coup on 1 February, the junta has arrested at least 20 monks.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Some Buddhist monks will be deployed at checkpoints in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city.

The local Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee[*] agreed to this after a meeting with the military junta that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the coup on 1 February.

The Myanmar armed forces asked for 30 monks, one for each checkpoint in the city. The Committee (Ma Ha Na) decided to provide just three.

“They are using ultra-nationalist monks who have little political knowledge,” an anonymous monk close to the religious organisation told Myanmar Now. As a result, “the Buddhist community will be damaged.”

Some observers believe that the move was taken to reduce attacks on soldiers. Most people sympathise with those who resist the military, but if monks are also wounded in attacks in the city, support for the anti-coup fighters might decline.

In March of this year, Ma Ha Na issued a statement condemning the violence against protesters. In Pegu and Pakokku, the monks organised peaceful rallies and protests together with local Christians.

Ashin Issariya, a monk who played an important role in the 2007 Saffron Revolution and an outspoken critic of military supporters, declared that the monks “who accept the junta's plan are traitors to the country.”

Since February, Myanmar’s military have arrested more than 20 monks, including two leading figures from the monastic community in Mandalay, Venerables Thawbita and Myawaddy Sayadaw.

The latter was released recently, but other monks who have been released say that a number of fellow religious have been tortured.


[*] The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee is body of high-ranking Buddhist monks that regulates the Sangha (Buddhist clergy).

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