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Oct 5, 2007 (DVB), Several monasteries in Rangoon were left empty following raids by government security forces on Wednesday night.
Maggin monastery in Thingangyun township, which provides care for people with HIV and AIDS, was emptied and locked up by the authorities.
Nearly all the monks from the monastery had been arrested in a previous raid, and only nine novices and a small number of HIV/AIDS patients remained there.
The novices were sent to another monastery, while the HIV/AIDS patients were handed over to medical officers at Thingangyun general hospital who then transferred them to Waibargi hospital in Nyaukokkalapa, according to a Thingangyun resident.
The Five-Storey monastery in the same township was also raided on Wednesday night, but the five monks who were left there following an earlier raid managed to avoid arrest.
In South Okkalapa township, Shwe Taung Maw monastery was targeted by soldiers from battalion 66. Thirty monks remaining in the near-empty monastery were arrested.
"[The soldiers] looked as if they were raiding a terrorist camp," said a source close to the monastery.
"They approached the monastery from Nga Moe Yeik creek in darkness, like a covert operation. And they carried out the raid on the monastery so discreetly that people didn't even realise," he said.
Lay people in the monastery were also arrested, including those who had taken refuge there.
"All the monks were arrested during the raid and the monastery has been left empty. They also arrested all the lay people who were staying at the monastery, including women with toddlers," said the source.
Soldiers also seized computers, two mobile telephones and other property from the monastery.
Local people said they expected the empty monasteries to be refilled with monks who support the government.
Reporting by Naw Say Phaw