Regime moves to put monks at checkpoints in Mandalay

A monastic regulatory body has agreed to allow the Myanmar junta to station Buddhist monks at checkpoints in Mandalay, according to monks in the country’s second-largest city.

Mandalay Region’s Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee reached the decision following a meeting with regime authorities on August 13, the monks said.

The body, which is known locally as Ma Ha Na, was asked to allocate up to 30 monks to act as guards at each checkpoint around the city, but agreed to provide just three, they added.

One monk close to the committee condemned the move, saying that it would harm the reputation of the Buddhist monastic order.

“They are using ultranationalist monks who have little political knowledge. If the monks follow their instructions, the Buddhist community will be damaged. It is very bad that the Ma Ha Na leaders have made such a decision,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

The move was seen as an effort to shield regime troops, who are routinely targeted by urban guerrilla groups resisting the February 1 military takeover, from attack.

While resistance groups enjoy broad public support, they will be discredited in the eyes of many lay Buddhists if monks are injured in these attacks, one monk noted.

Ashin Issariya, an outspoken critic of the regime and pro-military Buddhist ultranationalists, urged fellow monks to refuse to act as security guards.

“If they accept the order and serve as guards at checkpoints, conflicts are likely to occur, and the junta will blame PDFs and citizens,” he said, referring to People’s Defence Forces backed by the shadow National Unity Government.

“It is a deliberate incitement of conflict between the monks and the people. Monks who accept the junta’s plan are traitors to the country,” he added.

Since seizing power, the regime has detained more than 20 monks, including two prominent figures from Mandalay’s monastic community, Ven. Thawbita and the recently released Myawaddy Sayadaw.

Among those who have been detained, a number have been severely tortured, according to witnesses and the testimony of monks who have since been released.  

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