Senior Myanmar monk shot dead by junta soldiers, colleague says

Junta-controlled media blames death on rebel fighters.

Senior Myanmar monk shot dead by junta soldiers, colleague says

A senior Buddhist monk in Myanmar was shot dead Wednesday in his car as it left an airport in the central Mandalay region an attack perpetrated by junta soldiers, according to another monk who was in the car with him.

Junta-controlled media, however, blamed the death of Sayadaw Bhaddanta Munindabhivamsa, the abbot of Win Neinmitayon Monastery in the Bago region and retired member of the State Sangha Nayaka Committee, which oversees the nation’s Buddhist clergy, on rebel fighters.

Television broadcaster MRTV announced that the abbot’s car was caught in a firefight between junta troops and guerillas from the rebel People’s Defense Forces, resulting in the vehicle overturning and the abbot’s death.

But in a video that spread on social media Thursday, the abbot’s colleague, Sayadaw Bhaddanta Gunikabhivamsa, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the attack, said junta soldiers in a truck fired around seven or eight shots at the car, killing the abbot and injuring himself and the driver.

“[I said] how can you soldiers be so cruel?” the monk recounted. “They replied that they did not know monks were inside the car.”

The soldiers said they believed the car was an enemy vehicle because the windows were closed, so they shot at it, he said.

Gunikabhivamsa’s account appeared to match a report on the incident submitted by the chief of the Mandalay Region Religious Affairs Department, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported. 

The report cited local authorities who said soldiers conducting a security patrol killed the abbot when they shot at his vehicle after he did not pull over as instructed.

RFA contacted junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, for comment, but did not receive a response. 

RFA could not reach the Mandalay PDF for comment, either.

Sayadaw Bhaddanta Munindabhivamsa will be cremated on June 27.

Translated by Kalyar Lwin for RFA Burmese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.