Mandalay monks decline junta offering

Dec 19, 2007 (DVB), The majority of monks at Maha Gandhayon monastery, a lecturing monastery in Mandalay, refused to accept a food offering from minister for industry-1 Aung Thaung yesterday.

Aung Thaung went to the monastery to offer a meal to the monks, but only 100 of the 1000 monks in the monastery came to eat the meal, according to one of the monks.

"Only around 100 monks came to the meal, while the others went out to collect alms around the town instead," the monk said.

The previous day, film director Zinyaw Maung Maung and his crew had visited the monastery to make a video funded by the Union Solidarity and Development Association.

The video was intended to be broadcast on state television showing the monks having a meal and accepting alms.

But when the monks became aware of the planned video shoot, they refused to come out of the monastery.

The film crew waited until the afternoon but eventually had to leave without any footage after the monks locked the gates.

One member of the film crew who went into the monastery told DVB that he saw writing on the walls of the toilet calling on the monastery's monks not to accept Aung Thaung's meal offering and saying that those who attended the donation would be regarded as traitors.

This is the second time that Aung Thaung's alms offering has been rejected, after an attempt to give food to Seittabala monastery in Kyaukpadaung township Mandalay on 4 December met with the same response.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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