Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

9 November 2007

The Monk's Tale: Death in detention

The Monk's Tale: Death in detention
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"We only dared go back into the monastery in the morning. The whole building looked fairly messed up with doors that had been kicked open. We saw red stains on the floor... and solid red blobs that appeared to be blood."

U Thilavantha was a respected and much-loved member of his local community. He spent several years studying as a monk in Sri Lanka and was the Deputy Abbot of the Yuzana Kyaunghtai training school in Myitkyina, a city in the far north of Myanmar. He gave English classes to local children. He was around 35 years old.

On 25 September, the day after Myitkyina's monks had taken part in peaceful marches calling for an end to restrictions imposed by the military government, U Thilavantha's monastery was raided by police. He was beaten and arrested. Once in detention, he received further beatings.

He died of his injuries the following day. Officials at the local hospital were pressured into declaring that he had suffered a heart attack.

The monastery in which U Thilavantha lived had originally housed 142 monks. On 31 October, only 11 remained.

Monks from the training school in Myitkyina have told Amnesty International of the day the police destroyed their home. The monks have described the events of the 25 September that led to the death of U Thilavantha and the beating of many others.

"The authorities cut the phone lines at about five in the afternoon. At ten past nine that night, they crashed open the main gate of the monastery with their military trucks," recalled one of the monks.

"They started beating the monks as soon as they came in. They kicked open the main door of the monastery after they crashed open the gate. They beat us indiscriminately as soon as they got inside the building. It was a preventive strike so that the monks could not resist the attack. They ordered us to stand against the wall and hit the monks who did not obey their orders with sticks..."

Read More

Monks return to streets of Myanmar (News, 2 November 2007)

Myanmar: 18 years of persecution (Feature, 24 October 2007)

Activists tell of Myanmar 'witch hunt' (News, 19 October 2007)

Issue

Death In Custody 
Detention 
Freedom Of Expression 
Torture And Ill-treatment 

Country

Myanmar 

Region

Asia And The Pacific 

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