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Thousands shield abbot

May 29. 2016
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By ‘I really trust Phra Dhammacha

Anan Wijitpracha The Nation
MORE THAN 10,000 people entered Dhammakaya Temple yesterday in a show of support for its embattled abbot Phra Dhammachayo, as authorities sought a way to arrest the high-profile monk. 
The controversial monk is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains in relation to his alleged role in a massive embezzlement case involving the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. 
The cooperative’s former chief Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who gave hundreds of million of baht to Phra Dhammachayo, has already been sentenced to jail. 
The arrest warrant for Phra Dhammachayo was issued on May 18 after the monk repeatedly failed to answer summonses issued by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). Authorities have said they do not believe the claim that he is too ill to be interviewed by DSI officials.
Last week, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said the DSI had planned five steps designed to lead to the abbot’s arrest, although the exact date of the arrest would be determined by authorities in a bid to prevent an escalation of tensions. 
The department will send a letter to the Sangha Council in an effort to get senior monks involved in trying to resolve the issue.
On Saturday, the DSI used a drone and police helicopters to survey routes in and around Dhammakaya Temple as part of the plan to arrest the abbot. 
Tambon Klong Sam Administrative Organisation chairman Weerasak Hadda yesterday led 150 villagers in organising a somtam (spicy papaya salad) party at one of the temple’s gates. 
“We are here because we are grateful for the help the temple extended to us during the 2011 floods,” Wassana Cheeva-osot, one of the villagers, said. 
She said the temple had sent relief items to her village every day until all the floodwater was gone.
“So, we can’t stay idle now. From what we see in the media, we feel Phra Dhammachayo and his temple are not receiving fair treatment,” she added. 
Wassana and locals from Tambon Klong Sam brought banners declaring their support for Phra Dhammachayo. 
The names of their food items also reaffirmed their support. For example, one somtam item was called “Somtam of Gratitude” while a noodle item was named “Noodle of Temple Love”. 
Participants at the party received free food, snacks and water. 
Wassana also admitted that Phra Dhammachayo supporters parked an excavator truck in front of a gate to prevent unwanted persons from coming in. 
Dressed in white, young volunteers of Dhammakaya Temple showed up at the entrance to welcome supporters.
The temple’s officials and local police jointly checked vehicles coming into the temple compound to prevent people from trying to wreak havoc. 
Darawan Yotarat, 49, travelled from Bangkok to the temple in Pathum Thani province for the first time yesterday because she has faith in Phra Dhammachayo. 
“Although I had never come here before, it’s his advice that makes it possible for me and my son to meditate. After meditation, my son’s behaviour has improved. So, I really trust Phra Dhammachayo,” she said. 
She believes in his claim of innocence. 
“And like all his followers here, I am ready to defend him and Wat Dhammakaya,” she said. 

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