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Court in Myanmar’s Mandalay imprisons 3 monks for funding terrorism

A court in Myanmar’s central Mandalay region has handed down 22-year sentences to three Buddhist monks accused of supporting anti-junta People’s Defense forces, a local resident told RFA Thursday.

Tuesday’s sentences came after the monks from Taw Kyaung Gyi monastery in Patheingyi township were found guilty under Section 50 (j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, which prohibits the financing of terrorist groups.

The local, who didn’t want to be named for safety reasons, said the monks became involved because anti-junta militia often seek refuge in religious buildings, thinking they will be safer.

“A monk is not a People’s Defense Force [member]. PDF youths set up camp in that monastery and sent drones over Mandalay city,” he said.

“The monks probably encouraged them because locals are involved. Monks host the PDF and collect donations for them.”

RFA has not been able to find out the names of the monks but the local said one was the chair of Mandalay’s Madaya township Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, established by the government in 1980 to oversee the Buddhist clergy.

Another local, who also requested anonymity, told RFA the three monks are being held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison following the hearing in Mandalay city’s Aungmyaythazan District Court 

Some 18,364 people are currently in detention in Myanmar, 6,076 of them serving prison sentences, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.