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Kanchanaburi temple that served as a rehab closes amidst shocking abuse allegations



PHOTO: Myles Chuter/Flickr

A Thai temple in western Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, “Wat Tha Phu Rat Bamrung” also known as “Wat Tha Phu”, which also serves as drug rehab, has been ordered closed following allegations of ransom, torture, and the abuse of human rights. Due to the startling allegations, the temple is being investigated by the Narcotics Control Board and the Public Health Ministry.

The operators of the temple claim they must close because the temple doesn’t have anyone to oversee the centre. Thai PBS adds that the abbot who had started the rehab project died on Monday. They say he was already in failing health but the stress from the allegations only worsened his condition.

Earlier this week, over 200 patients were discovered to be living in squalid conditions at the temple. They were taken to a field hospital at the Khao Chon Kai Territorial Defence Student-Training Camp. An unknown number of patients have been collected from the hospital by their family members. When the families heard of the abuse allegations, they say they were shocked and oblivious to the conditions their family members were living in.

Some of the patients were there by their own volition and others had been ordered to stay there by police in lieu of a criminal record. The patients were charged 12,000 baht upon entering the rehab and had to pay another 2,000 baht for food. They were also required to pay a 10,000 baht fee if they were discharged early or if they breached their 12 month contract. A majority of the patients stayed at the centre to avoid having to pay the hefty penalty fine; although Thai PBS says the only treatment the program offered was essentially just praying.

They went on to say that more than 200 patients were stuck in 1 room that had 2 bathrooms. Patients say they contracted diseases and skin conditions because of the decrepit conditions. The families say that despite paying 2,000 baht a month for food, their family members only received 1 meal a day, or 2 meals if they were lucky. On days the patients weren’t so lucky, they had to eat spoiled rice and eat out of the same bowls they used for bathing or flushing the toilets. Up to 10 patients were forced to eat from the same bowl and use the same spoon.

Patients that complained about the treatment or tried to escape were assaulted by staff, says Thai PBS. They add that the staff, made up of rescue and medical officials, were hired by the abbot.



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Jack is from the USA, has a B.A. in English, and writes on a variety of topics. He lives in Thailand.

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