Police detain monk leader over Supreme Patriarch row

Thai police stormed into a meeting of Buddhist monks discussing the Supreme Patriarch row and took two monks out of a temple.   

Matichon Online reported that 20 police officers at 10: 20 am on Monday, 7 March 2016, stormed into a meeting of Buddhist monks at Wat Sri Sudaram, Bang Khun Non Subdistrict, Bangkok Noi District, Bangkok.

The meeting was led by Methi Thammacharn, Secretary-General of Centre to Protect Buddhism of Thailand, who on 15 February led hundreds of monks to Phutthamonthon Park in Nakhon Pathom Province to demand that the current acting Supreme Patriarch, Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, be named to the post permanently.

It was organised in cooperation with Phra Thepprasitmon, Abbot of Sri Sudaram Temple, and Sathien Wipromha, President of the Buddhist Scholars Network, to announce the group’s stand against the recent statement of the Office of the Ombudsman that the National Office of Buddhism unlawfully nominated the Supreme Patriarch candidate.

The Ombudsman’s Office stated that it has sent its conclusion on the matter to the Cabinet.  

After the officers stormed into the meeting, they summoned Methi, Thepprasitmon, and Sathien for a discussion which lasted about 30 minutes. The authorities did not allow anyone into the meeting.

When the closed meeting with the officers ended, Methi informed the participants of the meeting from the Buddhist networks that he could no longer hold the meeting and assigned two other monks to proceed. However, the authorities intervened again after five minutes and took the two monks out of the temple.

Matichon added that before meeting started several police and military officers were seen in front of the temple.

Last month, the police said that they would summon Methi for allegedly breaking the Public Assembly Act after he led a rally of monks to back up the acting Supreme Patriarch, while Buddha Issara, a well-known ultra-royalist monk, has pressed criminal defamation charges against him.

The nomination of Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn to the top post of Thai Buddhism, however, has been strongly contested by Buddha Issara, a monk affiliated with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn is affiliated with the controversial Dhammakaya Temple.

Police officers at Sri Sudaram Temple (Photo from Charan Ampornklinkeaw)

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