Military bars Buddhist group from organising press conference

Soldiers and police officers have stormed into a press conference on the crisis of Thai Buddhism to force its organisers to cancel the event.

On 12 December 2016, 11 soldiers and police officers intervened in a press conference titled ‘Solutions to the Crisis of Buddhism for Harmony’, Matichon Online reported.
 
The conference was organised by a Buddhist group called Buddhist Leaders Committee at the Grand Miracle Hotel on Vibhavadee Rangsit Rd, Bangkok.
 
It was organised to declare the group’s stand against the measures from the Thai authorities to use force in arresting Dhammachaiyo, 72, the fugitive former abbot of the controversial Dhammakaya Temple who is accused of receiving 1.4 billion baht of embezzled fund from a credit union as donation.
 
The authorities informed the organisers that the event must be aborted because the organisers did not ask for permission to hold such event priorly, warning that the organisers might be charged with the junta’s political assembly ban if it was to go ahead.    
 
After brief negotiation, Naphondech Maneerangka, one of the organisers, decided to cancel the event as the authorities ordered.
 
Currently, the authorities have deployed about 2,000 police officers and soldiers around the large Dhammakaya temple complex to maintain security and to prevent Dhammachayo from escaping and to prevent more Dhammachaiyo worshipers from entering the temple.
 
In an attempt to try to hold off the authorities from arresting Dhammachaiyo, the temple has called on its followers to come to the temple to defend the former abbot.
 
The temple staff reasoned that Dhammachaiyo is now ill and largely confined on his sickbed and argued that the charges against Dhammachaiyo are politically motivated.
 
According to Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the Chief of the Royal Thai Police, the standoff is expected to last no more than three months although the authorities have not announced any concrete plan to raid the temple.
 
 
A police officer preventing monks to hold a press conference on the crisis of Thai Buddhism on 12 December 2016 (Photo from Matichon Online