Monday, May 25, 2009

Authority imposes restrictions on monks travelling in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): Monks in Arakan State are currently facing severe restrictions from the authority, whenever they travel to Rangoon or Burma proper from Arakan State, a monk said.

“We are now facing restrictions of the local authority wherever we go. The authority asks several questions about our travel such as “why are you going there?”, “where is your resident monastery? “ “Do you have a monk ID card?” etc,” the monk said.

In the past, the authority had imposed many restrictions on the monks in Arakan State during and after the Saffron Revolution. However, the authority lifted the restrictions for monks in the beginning of 2008.

“The authority imposed restrictions against us recently and I think it is related to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest and subsequent trail. They know that monks around the country, disagreed with the recent action meted out by the military government to democracy icon Daw Suu Kyi,” said the monk.

Most intelligence and police officials, who are monitoring the bus stations, jetties and check posts throughout Arakan State, have been questioning the monks without fail.

Another monk from Sittwe, who recently visited Rangoon by bus said, “The police firstly asked for my monk ID card and secondly they asked me about the travelling testimony issued by the Township Thinga (monk) Council, when I reached Shwe Pyi Thit bus station in Sittwe to leave for Rangoon.”

The monk added, “I showed my ID card, but I could not show the travelling testimony of the Township Monk Council. So, the police official requested me to contact senior monks from the Township Monk Council over the phone. After a senior monk’s verbal permission, I got the chance to travel to Rangoon.”

Many monks are currently facing this kind of restriction, after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sent to Insein prison for trail.

A clerk from Sittwe Bus station said that it was not usual for the authority to question monks. When the authority starts suspecting monks, it is then that they ask them several questions and also ask them to furnish their travelling testimony.

Meanwhile, the rainy season will begin soon and the monks also have to go to their monsoon retreat (sojourn during the Buddhist Lent). Demonstrations staged by monks, against the military government, have taken place in Arakan State in the past. So, the authority has beefed up security for the monks in Arakan State.

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