As months pass without contact, concerns grow for safety of injured Mandalay monk in junta custody 

It has been three months since relatives and members of the monastic community have had contact with Ven. Sandima, a monk arrested by junta soldiers during a raid on Thinzagar Monastery in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township on February 9. 

A member of a Mandalay-based monastic association recalled the night of the attack on the religious site, at which time four monks and seven students were present. 

“The military arrived at the monastery at around 10pm and showed the people a bunch of photos and asked them if they knew them,” he said. “They forced all the monks and students from the monastery to get down on their knees and they tied their hands behind their backs. They also chastised them for not knowing the people who they asked them about.” 

During the interrogations, the 43-year-old Ven. Sandima reportedly attempted to escape over the outer wall of the compound, but injured himself and was apprehended by the troops.

“He tried to flee as he knew that things weren’t looking good for him. He tried to jump over the fence but he broke his leg upon landing. Then he was beaten and arrested by the junta forces that were waiting right outside,” the monk said. 

Sources inside Mandalay’s Obo Prison said that at the time of reporting, Ven. Sandima had not yet been brought to the site. 

A Mandalay-based lawyer told Myanmar Now that a terrorism charge had been filed against the monk, but his whereabouts where not known. 

“He still hasn’t arrived at the prison and we heard that he had a broken femur. I think they haven’t sent him to prison yet because of his health,” the lawyer said, adding, “I think he’s still at the interrogation centre.” 

The military’s interrogation centre inside Mandalay Palace, where the monk may be held, is notorious for the reports of torture and murder allegedly perpetrated on site by junta personnel.

Myanmar Now tried to contact junta officials for comment on the arrest and detention of Ven. Sandima, but all calls went unanswered. 

The strike committee within Mandalay’s monastic association committed to engaging in 360 days of daily public protests in opposition to military repression in the country. 

“Although we have paused our actions now, we are going to protest whenever we can in whatever way that we can,” the monk from the association said. “We are only laying low because we are currently the enemy’s subject of interest. That’s why we can’t go out to protest in the streets anymore.” 

“We are still revolting against them in every other way that we can,” he added. 

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