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Petition lodged over temple dispute

Feb 24. 2017
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A GROUP of more than 200 monks and lay supporters have submitted a petition at Chiang Mai City Hall calling on Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha to cancel the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) order against Dhammakaya Temple.

The group, led by Chiang Mai deputy monastic chief Phra Thepmangalajarn who is also Wat Tha Ton abbot, said such action hurt Buddhists’ sentiment and created bad feeling among the public. 

They urged authorities to use more gentle or compromising methods to handle the case and said they would return next week to hear the answer. 

Chiang Mai’s National Office of Buddhism branch director Prapan Khamjoy said the temples with links to Dhammakaya were located mostly in San Sai and Hot districts and so far none had created any difficulties.

The NCPO head invoked Article 44 of the Interim Charter to issue the order to declare Dhammakaya Temple as an area under control and subject to a search for its fugitive former abbot Phra Dhammachayo.

The President of the Association of District Clerk, Boonyarit Nipawanich, meanwhile, submitted a request to the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI) Northern Operations Centre director Pol Lt Colonel Sa-ard Sunthorn to have officers investigate monks in Dhammakaya Temple.

 He claimed some monks – seen in video footage and in newspaper photos tussling with officers this week – may be undocumented migrants or stateless people. 

He said that if some of the “monks” were non-Thai, they and those harbouring them could violate the 1979 Immigration Act. 

Sa-ard said he would pass the request to the DSI chief, as the matter could be a national security issue. 

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