Monks ordered to leave Maggin monastery

Nov 28, 2007 (DVB), Local authorities in Thingangyun township have ordered monks from Maggin monastery to leave the premises, according to sources close to the monastery.

At around 4pm yesterday, the Thingangyun township Peace and Development Council office chairman presented acting abbot U Nandiya with an order to send all the monks back to their home towns.

U Nandiya, who is 80 years old, has been the temporary head monk since the former abbot, U Nandiya's son, was arrested.

The township PDC chairman, who had signed the letter, gave no explanation for the command, but said he was acting on orders from the senior administration.

There are currently two senior monks and six novices living at the monastery, along with two monastery assistants and a small number of HIV/AIDS patients.

Since the order was given yesterday, the monastery has been under close watch by plain clothes government officials, according to a local resident.

At around 8am this morning, according to another township resident, the Rangoon division eastern district Sasana authority chairman, U Kyin Khine, came to the monastery with township Sasana administration chairman U Kyaw Tun, the ward PDC chairman, and other officials.

When they repeated the order to leave the monastery, the monks told them it would be difficult to leave at such short notice.

"They have HIV/AIDS patients staying there, and the head monk is 80 years old, so they said it would be difficult to move at short notice and asked for two weeks to make arrangements," said the resident.

They also asked if the Sasana authorities could arrange new accommodation for the monks because they didn't have anywhere to go, but they were told that they could not ask any more questions or for help.

They did not explain the origins of the order, but it was suspected to have come from the Head Monks Association.

Before leaving, The Sasana authorities told them they would give them one week to leave the monastery.

However, the same group returned later and said they wanted them all to be off the premises and the monastery locked up by the next day.

At 6pm this evening the Sasana authorities again turned up at the monastery and made a list of the names and personal details of the six novices.

They told the novices they would come and pick them up at the monastery the next evening, and would take them somewhere they can get accommodation.

However, they would not give the novices any further information about where they might be sent and told them they cold not answer any other questions.

Maggin monastery was recently the location for full moon day celebrations, which were allowed to go ahead despite some restrictions and under close government watch.

The monastery has previously been targeted in raids be security forces, and was left empty after a raid on 3 October in which eight monks and lay people were arrested, before being allowed to re-open the following week.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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