Thursday, January 22, 2009

AIDS Patients Forced to Leave Monastery


Authorities have forced 35 people living with HIV/AIDS to leave a monastery in Rangoon where they were receiving free treatment, according to sources close to the monastery.

A caregiver at the monastery told The Irrawaddy that on Tuesday, local authorities ordered the patients to move to the Wai Bar Gi Infectious Diseases Hospital in Rangoon’s North Okkalapa Township. However, only 26 of the patients went to the hospital, the source said.

The patients, including two young children, were from various parts of Burma and were too poor to go to a hospital, the source said. He added that some were receiving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the monastery, but were not in such serious condition that they needed to be hospitalized.

Another source said that authorities inspecting construction on an extension of the monastery told the abbot that the unauthorized “guests” were not permitted to stay. The abbot now fears that his monastery will be shut down, the source added.

In October 2007, following the monk-led protests known as the Saffron Revolution, the authorities raided Maggin Monastery in Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township and expelled its resident monks. The monastery, which also provided free healthcare to people with HIV/AIDS, was suspected of harboring social activists.

The abbot of the monastery, U Indaka, was sentenced to more than 20 years imprisonment for his involvement in the Saffron Revolution.

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