Myanmar monk in trouble over speech at Suu Kyi party

YANGON - A monk in Myanmar has been ordered out of his monastery by Buddhist elders who said he had given an inappropriate speech at an office of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, he said Friday.

Ashin Pyinyar Thiha, who recently met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her historic visit, said he received a letter from the State Sangha Maha Nayaka committee asking him to leave Sardu Buddhist Monastery in Yangon.

It said the action was taken because of a speech he made at a branch of Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy in Mandalay in central Myanmar in September.

The 46-year-old said he would write to the Buddhist elders to appeal the decision.

“I will apologise... after that everything will be okay,” Ashin Pyinnyar Thiha, who has spent 27 years as a Buddhist monk, told AFP. “This is not the time to quarrel with very senior monks.”

He blamed the authorities for sending inaccurate information to the senior monks about the incident, which Suu Kyi’s party described as a “misunderstanding”.

“It was just an ordinary donation event,” spokesman Nyan Win told AFP.

Observers suggested the action might be linked to recent political activities at his monastery, as well as Ashin Pyinyar Thiha’s meeting with Clinton earlier this month at the residence of the US Charge d’Affaires in Yangon.

A Myanmar government official said Ashin Pyinnyar Thiha’s case was an “internal issue” for the monks.

A new nominally civilian government that came to power in March has surprised critics with tentative signs of reform.

A small group of monks held a rare protest in Mandalay last month but no action was taken against them, in the latest tentative sign of change.

It was thought to be the first such rally since mass protests led by clergy in 2007 were brutally quashed, with the deaths of at least 31 people and the arrests of many monks.