Nov 29, 2007 (DVB), Maggin monastery in Thingangyun township has been closed by local authorities and its inhabitants forced to leave today, following an order given to the head monk yesterday.
Bote Sone, an HIV/AIDS patient who was living at the monastery, said that the local Sasana authorities who had passed on the order yesterday returned to the monastery at around 4.30pm today and spoke to the acting head monk, U Nandiya.
They informed U Nandiya that the monks and other monastery residents would have to leave, and read out a government order saying that the monastery would be officially closed from 6.30pm today.
The Sasana authorities did not say where the order came from, and when Bote Sone asked who had authorised the closure, she was told not to ask any further questions.
Bote Sone said she was worried about the head monk, who did not have anywhere to go.
"I don't know where the head monk will live now. He seemed really sad after they spoke to him, and he couldn't even talk afterwards," she said.
Bote Sone said she and the other HIV/AIDS patients from the monastery would stay on the street at the junction near the monastery.
HIV/AIDS activist Phyu Phyu Thin said that the monastery closure would put its inhabitants at risk.
"The government authorities are putting all these monks and HIV/AIDS victims in a lot of trouble by closing this monastery," she said.
U Aung Thein, lawyer for the National League for Democracy, said that officials did not have the authority to order the monastery closure.
"It is beyond the authority of township-level administration officers to come and close down a monastery by verbal order. This kind of order can only be made by the National Head Monks Association.
Reporting by Naw Say Phaw