Monks protest in Shan capital after officials demolish monastery

Monks protest in Shan capital after officials demolish monastery

Monks marched through the streets of Shan state’s capital Taunggyi on Wednesday to protest a decision by the authorities to demolish a Buddhist monastery that had allegedly been built on government land.

After about 40 local monks demonstrated in the Shan state capital yesterday, organisers said they were planning to hold another demonstration on 27 May and are in the process of applying for a permit in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.

According to a resident in Taunggyi, the Htinshu Myaing Monastery was built without permission on land owned by the Forest Department alongside the Taunggyi-Hopong highway road.

On Tuesday, the monastery was raided by authorities, who then forcefully evicted 12 resident monks including the Abbot Kawisara. The monks were then forced to disrobe before the monastery was demolished later that evening.

The monastery’s abbot is currently being held at Taunglaylone prison in Taunggyi, where he is awaiting trial and will likely be hit with charges for defaming the Buddhist religion.

“The [abbot] is being charged under [Penal Code] Article-295 for [defaming the Sasana] and is going to court,” said Abbot Khema Nanda of Lawka Marnaung Monastery in Taunggyi.

“The rest of the monks are now staying at this monastery – they are still in layman clothing but still maintaining their monks’ code.”

Burmese authorities routinely rely on vague, sweeping laws that allow officials to prosecute opponents in court.

The monastery was built in 2000 and given an eviction order last year to make way for the construction of a football field; however, the monks ignored the directive and went on to build a stupa on the grounds. Earlier this year to the monks’ chagrin, the monastery was given another eviction order to make way for the construction of a medical school.

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