BBC Burmese Interview with a HIV/Aids patient at Maggin Monastery

04 December 2007

BBC Burmese Interview with a HIV/Aids patient at Maggin Monastery
September 27, 2007
(Unofficial translation)

Min Htet: Another monastery that was raided along with Ngwaykyaryan is Maggin monastery. It is a monastery that has cared for the HIV/Aids patients. The security forces raided the monastery around midnight and took many monks into custody. A man who was at the monastery during the raid recounted his experience to BBC.

Unidentified eyewitness: I heard the whistling at about midnight last night. It was a signal (to initiate the raid). Then they came, scaling over the walls. I heard running footsteps – the sound of rubber soles rapidly hitting the ground – coming toward us. So I got up and looked out. I saw a sea of soldiers on the road. As soon as I saw the solders and sensed the imminent raid, I went around waking up the patients. I told them that we had been surrounded by security forces.

Min Htet: When you say "patients" are you talking about HIV/Aids patients, staying at the monastery to receive medical care?

Eyewitness: Yes. After waking up the patients, I told them that we had been surrounded and then I went to check if we could get away through the back door. But the security forces were there already. There had also taken position near the toilet.

Min Htet: So the soldiers were already within the monastery compound at that time?

Eyewitness: There were soldiers everywhere – both within the premises and on the road outside the monastery.

Min Htet: Were they soldiers or police?

Eyewitness: There were soldiers. The security forces also included (members of) Swan Err Shin and USDA (civilian militias). I saw thick sticks in their hands. We were in the building in the back of the premises; there is another building in front of our building, which is occupied by the abbot, novices and other monks. The security forces went up into that building. They grabbed the monks by their necks, pushed them about and beat them up with sticks. They hit the monks with the sticks and dragged them out of the building. The novices were asleep at the time. The soldiers went into the monastery with their combat boots on. Then they dragged the novices out shouting, "Is there anyone left in the building? Is there anyone left in the building?" They also asked the monks if there were any monks left in the building. They shouted, "Don't lie to us! Are there any monks left in the building?" They were scolding and shouting at the novices. The novices were shaking with fear. The raid took place as if the soldiers were attacking a rebel position.

Min Htet: So the raid was concentrated on the monastery building where the abbot resides?

Eyewitness: Yes, in the building where he lives. Then the security forces came to our building. We have patients staying on the ground floor. The soldiers dragged the patients out of the building. They literally dragged them across the floor out of the building. The patients took out their patient registration papers and told the soldiers that they are HIV/Aids patients. The soldiers stopped once they knew who the occupants of the building were, but then there were other security forces who did not know this and they tried to force the patients out of the building. It happened three or four times and only after the patients had shown the soldiers their papers did they fully realize the situation and stop the harassment.

Min Htet: So the soldiers stopped dragging the patients out of the building?

Eyewitness: Yes, they did; they stopped dragging the patients out forcibly.

Min Htet: How about the monks?

Eyewitness: There were four monks in the building and all four of them were detained. The abbot was taken as well. The abbot, U Einnaka, was detained as well. The soldiers also took away the father of the abbot, who is also a monk and 84-years-old. The soldiers started their raid on the ground floor and then went up to the upper floor. I could hear the sounds of combat boots walking on the upper floor. Although I was in the upper floor of another building, I was shaking with fear. Then they came up to the upper floor where I was. They pushed the door open from outside. Still shaking, I got up and opened the door. They rushed into the room, grabbed my hands and immediately tied them up. I told them that I am a patient. I begged and explained to them that I came here to get medical treatment and that I am an HIV/Aids patient. Then someone I believe was the ringleader said, "Leave them be if they are patients." Then they looked inside the mosquito nets to see if any monks were hiding there. They held the monks by their necks and pushed them out of the building while kicking and hitting them. The father of the abbot, the old monk, was treated in the same way while he was taken away.

Min Htet: How about the novices?

Eyewitness: They left the novices at the monastery. They hit them and dragged them out of the building and ordered them to sit on the ground. But they left the novices after beating them.

Min Htet: Were any of the novices injured?

Eyewitness: They did not sustain any visible injuries. But even if the monks were injured, they dared not talk back to the soldiers. The patients did not dare question the soldiers. The soldiers were behaving as if they were going to kill us. They had looks of killers. So we did not talk back at all. We were shaking with fear so I could not even dare breathe during the raid, let alone question their authority.

Min Htet: How many soldiers were there, you reckon?

Eyewitness: There were about 100 of them, both inside and outside the monastery premises.

Min Htet: Did you see how the abbot was taken away?

Eyewitness: The abbot had his robe pulled over his head. He was pushed and dragged by his neck. The soldiers also used their rifle butts to poke at him to urge him forward. That's how the abbot was taken away.

Min Htet: Ma Yi Yi Aung, that was the eyewitness recounting what he saw during the raid at Maggin monastery last night, how the soldiers treated the monks and how they were taken away for detention.

(Thanks to a friend of mine who sent this translated information to me. FTC)


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