Monday, May 19, 2008

The AK-47 Monk

Now here’s something you don’t see every day – a Buddhist monk behaving badly. In Thailand you only see it every second or third day. The particularly skewed Thai understanding of what the Sangha is supposed to be about, the country’s arcane system of monastic recruitment and the fact that anyone - and I mean anyone! - can join the Sangha, means that Thai monks are, how shall I put it, ‘a mixed bag.’ The news item below illustrates what I mean. It would be interesting to know why this monk was not disrobed after his first encounter with the police. It would be equally interesting to know if he was disrobed after this more recent performance. Probably not. Now that I think about it, it would be interesting to know how a monk makes his way through Bangkok and enter parliament with a AK-47 tucked under his robe? How does a monk GET an AK-47? Ah Thailand! The land of the tattered Buddha.

BANGKOK May 22. A young Buddhist monk was arrested on Wednesday after storming Thailand’s Parliament with an assault rifle, taking about 30 people hostage and demanding to speak with the Prime Minister. No one was injured. After a one-hour standoff during which he berated authorities by mobile phone and fired an AK-47 assault rifle into the air once, the monk was captured by three plainclothes police posing as reporters who grabbed the gun and handcuffed him. The monk, who wore a traditional yellow robe, said he was from a province in south-eastern Thailand and was in his 20’s. Before being arrested, he demanded to be allowed to talk with the Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, saying that he wanted to protest “unjust treatment” he suffered when arrested by police several years ago. Speaking into a reporter’s mobile phone, the monk said in a lengthy speech that was broadcast live on radio and television that he was arrested in 1996 for trespassing in a national park and was beaten and stripped by police. He said that authorities had not responded to his complaints. The chaos began at about 8:30 a.m. local time, just minutes before Thailand’s 500-member elected Lower House was set to debate a much-anticipated no-confidence motion against 15 Cabinet members in Mr. Thaksin’s 14-month-old Government. A woman entering the Parliament building to listen to the debate said that the monk threatened to kill her and others. “He stormed into the reception office where I was and said, ‘Don't move or you'll get yourself killed,’” said Pratuang Mongkolsil, 53. “Then the monk went out and shot once and came back. I was so frightened.”


Anandajoti said...

Although this doesn't affect the blog materially it should be pointed out that this incident happened a number of years ago and is not 'news'.

footiam said...

Thanks for this. It's news to me even though I see that it is commented here that it is not news. What is old is recyclable. Buddha's teaching is 3000 years old? Well, we can learn from old things but actually, I just want to say that man in monk's clothing is not necessary a monk.

Jim said...

It happened in 2001 or 2002. I was there at the time.