Authorities ban Dhamma talk in Magwe

Feb 18, 2008 (DVB), Local authorities in Pwint Phyu township, Magwe division, cancelled a Dhamma talk by a Mandalay abbot on Saturday and told him to leave the town, local residents said.

Abbot U Thu Mingala of Moegok Wipathana monastery in Mandalay was conducting a three-day Dhamma talk in the township.

Residents of Kone Zaung village, Pwint Phyu, said the talk had already run for two days before police came and stopped the event on the third day.

"Local police chief U Sein Win arrived at the location where the talk was being held at around 2pm on Saturday afternoon and said that U Thu Mingala has been banned from conducting Dhamma talks," a Kone Zaung villager said.

"He also demanded that the pavilion be demolished and the monk leave town at once."

Police did not give a reason for the order or show any legal documentation.

Chit Wai San, a local village youth who demanded an explanation for the cancellation, was punched and arrested by Sein Win.

Police initially denied a request made by U Thu Mingalar to release Chit Wai San, but later released him after the villagers agreed to pay 100,000 kyat, the villager said.

"The day after, Sein Win demanded 200,000 kyat for Chit Wai San's release," he said.

"But the villagers bargained with the police chief and managed to get him to agree to 100,000."

U Thu Mingala has been recently gained a name among people in the region for raising controversial issues during his talks.

During the two days of sermons he gave in Pwint Phyu, U Thu Mingala conducted talks under such titles as, "Time for a change of leader" and "Do not take the easy path".

U Thu Mingala has complained he was only passing on the wisdom of Buddhist teaching in his talks and is now trying to find out on what grounds he has been banned from conducting talks.

"I did not say anything damaging towards [the government], in fact everything I said came from Buddhist teachings," said U Thu Mingala.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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