AIDS Monastery Ordered Closed In Myanmar
Posted by pozlife on December 2, 2007
by The Associated Press
Posted: November 30, 2007 – 9:30 am ET
(Bangkok, Thailand) A Buddhist monastery that provided a hospice for AIDS patients has been closed down by the regime in Myanmar, which is also still arresting dissidents, the top U.S. diplomat in the country said Friday.
The monastery, in the biggest city Yangon, was raided Thursday. "Apparently, it was ordered closed. No one knows why," said Shari Villarosa, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar.
She was speaking to reporters during a visit to Bangkok in neighboring Thailand.
Three military trucks arrived outside the Maggin Monastery and told everyone inside to leave, according to the online edition of The Irrawaddy, a news magazine run by Myanmar exiles in Thailand. The AIDS patients were moved by the authorities to an unknown location, it said.
The monastery, which also gave AIDS treatment, was raided during the junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy activists in September for involvement in monk-led protests.
"Arrests are continuing. We are getting reports on a daily basis of people being picked up," Villarosa said. "It raises questions about the sincerity of the military in pursuing what we will consider to be a genuine dialogue leading to national reconciliation."
Amnesty International said earlier the junta had arrested a dozen activists and Buddhist monks this month, despite assurances that the crackdown had stopped.
At least 15 people were killed and nearly 3,000 people detained during the September crackdown. The regime says all but 90 people have been freed, but Amnesty said 700 were still in custody.
The abbot of Maggin Monastery, U Indaka, was among those still detained, The Irrawaddy said.
Monasteries in Yangon remained deserted, Villarosa said, adding that she believed a "considerable number" of monks were detained.
Meanwhile, the U.N. envoy to Myanmar said Friday the junta must free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest if it is serious about reforms.
"Now we are saying very clearly that if Aung San Suu Kyi is to become part of the solution and a partner in dialogue, then it is very essential that she should be released from detention," Ibrahim Gambari told reporters in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh at the end of a two-day visit.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been detained for 12 of the past 18 years.
"Any further arrests of people will run counter to the spirit of national reconciliation and … to the efforts to promote dialogue between the opposition and the government," Gambari said.
He spoke shortly after Myanmar Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thein Sein arrived in Cambodia. The two did not meet and officials said the timing of the visits was coincidental.
Gambari is to return to Myanmar next month on his third mission since September to try to push the junta toward reconciliation talks with the opposition.