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DSI warns against use of force

PATHUM THANI: Authorities are reluctant to use force in searching certain buildings at Wat Phra Dhammakaya as many people occupy the spaces, says the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

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By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 1 March 2017, 09:07AM


The DSI posted a warning to monks not to try to block access to the temple. Photo: Apichit Jinakul

The DSI posted a warning to monks not to try to block access to the temple. Photo: Apichit Jinakul

Maj Woranan Srilum, a deputy spokesman for the DSI, said the buildings which the DSI would like to search are being occupied by a large number of monks and temple disciples practising dharmma.

Although the authorities now have the right to raid the buildings under an order approved under Section 44 of the charter, which declares the area a restricted zone, any forceful action against those people may appear “violent” and “inappropriate”, he said.

The special power under Section 44 was invoked to allow security authorities to search the temple for its elusive former abbot, Phra Dhammajayo, who is wanted on money laundering and other charges in connection with the multi-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Co-operative embezzlement.

The search has been under way for days, but authorities have yet to find the former abbot, and meanwhile are meeting resistance from the temple’s monks, who fear they will plunder the temple for its treasures. Moreover, an intelligence report received by the DSI warned that temple supporters had tried to ramp up protests by mobilising more people to the gathering, said Maj Woranan.

These additional protesters had tried to sneak into the temple at night despite tough security measures being maintained, he said.

The DSI was contacting about 40 people found to be playing a key role in the movement, summoning them to report to the Border Patrol Police Region 1’s headquarters in Pathum Thani province, he said.

The Pathum Thani Governor, meanwhile, has been told to ensure that local civil servants who have obstructed the operation at the temple report to the authorities.

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Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday (Feb 28)) insisted that no such forceful action will be carried out against monks at the temple, while the authorities will try to avoid any unnecessary confrontations that may lead to damage.

First Army commander Lt Gen Apirach Kongsompong and his deputy, Maj Gen Thammanoon Withi, briefed him on the situation at the temple yesterday morning, said Gen Prawit.

The DSI, together with the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), is also implementing stepped-up measures including stricter screening of monks at the temple in which monks are being asked to show their certificates of identity to prove they are real monks.

Otherwise, they will face charges for illegally posing as monks.

The NOB yesterday put up a banner near a market close to the temple warning monks and novices against obstructing the operation at the temple.

Phra Sanitwong Wutthiwangso, the temple’s communications head, meanwhile, described the ongoing operation at the temple as a 13th consecutive day in which the monks’ basic human rights had been violated.

Read original story here.

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