Fri 30 Nov 2007
Filed under: News,Opinion,Other
The Burmese military government’s recent move to seal off Maggin monastery in Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township has proved once again that the regime lacks the will to solve the country’s current political and social crisis-while effectively declaring war on the country’s biggest, longest-established and most revered institution, the Sangha.
Maggin Monastery was surrounded by security forces and pro-government thugs on Thursday afternoon and sealed off.Â An 80-year-old monk and eight novices, two lay people and six HIV/AIDS patients left the monastery with their belongings-but they have nowhere to go. Some reports say the military authority told people living in the neighborhood of the monastery to afford them no help, not even with transport.
The decision to close the monastery and order the monks to leave can only have been taken by the state-sanctioned Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, which oversees the country’s clergy. Now it oversees the clergy from the end of a gun barrel, while taking no responsibility for the protection of the evicted monks and their monastery. It’s scarcely credible that this is happening in a Buddhist country.
It’s also ironic and shaming that Burma is preparing to celebrate World AIDS Day at a time when a Rangoon hospice and treatment center for HIV/AIDS patients, located at Maggin Monastery, was forced to close when troops sealed off the compound.
The Maggin Monastery center drew HIV/AIDS patients from throughout the country. Neglected by the state and its â€œsocial organizations,â€ they found shelter, food, medical care and compassion among the monks.
The work of the monks was regarded with suspicion by the regime, which feared that the monastery collaborated in its social work with opposition movements such as the National League for Democracy and the 88 Generation Students group. The regime harbored groundless fears that the monastery played a key behind-the-scenes role in the September pro-democracy uprising. As a result, Maggin Monastery has been raided by soldiers five times since September and has now been finally shut down.
During the raids, HIV/AIDS patients were rounded up and “transferred” to the Wai Bar Gi Infectious Diseases Hospital in Rangoon’s North Okkalapa Township.
Some were forced to return to their home towns and villages, where a number died because of lack of suitable medical care, according to public health workers in Rangoon.
The regime’s callous actions are absolutely unacceptable in a civilized society. The people of Burma now feel they lack any institution that can protect them and what they value.
The closure of Maggin Monastery and its HIV/AIDS center is a further sign of how far Burma has sunk, under the leadership of Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his junta, into the sad status of a failed state.