While the world is watching Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to Burma with optimism, the restrictive methods of the Burmese regime are still in full effect. Via a very difficult connection, we were able to talk to Ashin Sopaka in Burma today by using a mobile phone and a Skype connection to Thailand, Switzerland and Germany.
Following the recent peaceful protest in Mandalay earlier this month calling for the release of political prisoners, an end to the civil wars in Burma, and freedom of speech, Ashin Sopaka and the four monks Ashin Candima, Ashin Magha, Ashin Bhindola and Ashin Jotipala were ordered by the Maha Nayaka (Sangha Council) to return to their home villages.
Ashin Sopaka and three other monks have been in Thaphyay Aye Village, Sagaing Division, since the protests were ended. It is a very remote and small village with no Internet access. In the short telephone conversation, which was interrupted several times, Ashin Sopaka told us he is doing well. As usual, he laughed a lot.
After being asked if he has a plan to come back to Thailand or even Germany, he said that he cannot at the moment, as he is not allowed to leave his home village. The plainclothes police who followed the monks from Mandalay are still staying in his hometown. He is under a 24-hour surveillance by military intelligence. They monitor everything he does.
While staying at the monastery where is uncle is abbot, he has started teaching English, just as he did in Mae Sot and during his secret time in Mandalay and Bagan.
Although the current regime in Burma did not arrest or torture the protesting monks, as it did in 2007, Ashin Sopaka and his fellow monks have been put under another form of arrest. Like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other well known pro-democracy activists, Ashin Sopaka is under another form of house arrest — in this case it is a “village arrest”, cut off from the rest of the world. This is not a sign of real change in the country. In fact, it reveals that the current regime is still trying hard to prevent and cover up all forms of public dissent, while attempting to present a “moderate, reform-focused” face to the world.
- Ashin Sopaka and Ashin Jotipala are in Thaphyay Aye Village, Burma
- We call on all monks, people of Burma and people outside of Burma to join Ashin Sopaka
- Villagers from Pa Lu village flee to Mae Sot area
- Ashin Sopaka teaches at Mae La Refugee Camp
- Interview with Ashin Sopaka in Spain
- Ashin Sopaka in Bulgaria
- Ashin Sopaka visits JFK Friendship Center in Berlin
- King Zero escapes arrest
- Ashin Sopaka on DVB
- Ashin Sopaka at the Peace Festval in Berlin