Wed 10 Oct 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
A Shan cleric from Burma who recently fled to Thailand has confirmed that more than a hundred Shan monks were among those detained by the ruling military junta during the crackdown two weeks ago.
“The Pinnya Ramika temple in (Rangoon’s) Botahtaung Township where I stayed, alone had more than 100 Shan boarders of a total of 400 odd. All of us except the abbot and his two deputies (Taik-Ok) were detained. Only nine evaded arrest by climbing into the attic,” said the 22-year old monk, a native of one of the townships in Shan State East
The monastery was raided at 3 a.m. on SeptemberÂ 27, a day after the violent clampdown began. “The military surrounded the temple, woke up the abbot and ordered him to beat the brass gong,” he said.
According to him, the monks were instructed to assemble at the mess hall and told they had been invited to breakfast at the Kaba Aye (World Peace Pagoda).
“We piled into trucks waiting outside the temple grounds. But when the trucks drove past the Kaba Aye and then to Insein without stopping, we knew we were in for a Heaven-knows-how-long ordeal,” he said
The group arrived at the Mingladon military prison outside Rangoon where they were locked up in crowded cells. “There were at least over 1,000 detainees, including 600 monks,” he estimated.
Later in the day, some elderly monks, believed to be sympathetic to the military, arrived with new “lay people’s clothes” and ordered them to put them on, discarding the standard saffron robes worn by Buddhist monks.
“Day and night, one monk after another was taken out of the cells to be interrogated. Some returned with swollen heads and bruised bodies, others with bent backs or limps. ‘You are no longer monks’, the guards liked to tell us, ‘You are just bald-heads now’,” he recalled.
The young monk, who asked not to be identified as he had left a number of relatives back in his hometown, said he, together with 70 monks, were released onÂ October 4, “probably through the good offices of our abbot.”
The exact number of Shan monks detained along with Burmese monks could not be known, according to other sources. Rangoon and Mandalay have been centres of learning both for lay people and monks from the Shan hills.
“My elder brother is among those arrested in Mandalay. I haven’t heard from him for a week. But the last time he called me, he along with other monks were staging a hunger strike,” said a businessman in Tachilek.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), at least 4,000 people including more than 1,000 monks were arrested during the countrywide clampdown on protesters demonstrating against 100-500 percent fuel price rise on August 15.