Myanmar monks rally in solidarity with Thai temple

Nay Pyi Taw, Feb 24 (IANS) Buddhist nationalist protestors in Yangon demonstrated on Friday to show solidarity with Thailand’s Dhammakaya Temple, which has been the subject of a police crackdown over the past week.

Around 150 demonstrators, led by a group of some 30 monks, congregated in front of the Thai embassy, waving Myanmar’s national flags and Buddhist flags.

Participants also held up banners calling on Thai authorities to end the crackdown on the temple, located on the outskirts of Bangkok, where clashes have broken out in recent days amid searches for its fugitive founder Phra Dhammachayo, 72, Efe news reported.

Dhammachayo is wanted by Thai police on charges of land encroachment, money laundering and embezzling funds received as donations from a financial cooperative.

The temple has denied the allegations against Dhammachayo, who has not been seen in public since he was charged in June 2016.

The temple monks claim the former abbot is too ill to respond to police summons, and deny knowledge of his whereabouts.

Protestors urged the Thai government to keep Dhammakaya “free from violence”.

Meanwhile, Thai Buddhist monks continued to protest on Friday outside the temple, which remains sealed off by police.

Several were seen meditating behind protest banners, as they continued a hunger strike aimed at putting pressure on the government to lift the special powers allowing authorities to take control of the vast compound.