Burmese Junta spies pose as Buddhist monks & nuns in N Thailand

Image via Channel3

Alleged spies from the Burmese junta, disguised as Buddhist monks and nuns, were among 54 Burmese people arrested at a three-storey building in Tak province in northern Thailand on Monday, according to Channel3.

On Monday, police, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Mae Sot District Administrative Organisation, and Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) closed in on the building in the Mae Pa subdistrict in Mae Sod district.

The raid occurred after the ISOC office in Tak province received a request from monks at the Buddhism Bureau of Tak province to investigate the group.

The Buddhism Bureau had received a complaint from villagers in the Mae Pa subdistrict who were concerned that the group of monks and nuns, who had been out collecting alms in the area, were not real.

The villagers told the Buddhism Bureau that they were suspicious of the monastics because they lived with a big group of people in the building and regularly made a loud noise.

The officials found a total of 54 Burmese people residing in the building, including 11 monks, 16 nuns, 11 men, 14 women, and two children. Matichon reports that the building used to be a detention centre for Burmese illegal immigrants but was closed down when changes were made to immigration policies in Thailand.

No one in the group could provide any form of documentation so all 54 people were detained and taken to the immigration officer of Tak province.

ISOC’s initial investigation reveals that some of the “monks” and “nuns” are not real monastics but are spies from the Burmese junta who snuck into Thailand to investigate anti-junta activities in Mae Sot, near the border of Myanmar.

Some of the “monastics” told officials that they planned to travel to Bangkok to investigate resistance movements against the Burmese junta.

In February last year, democratically elected members of Myanmar’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, were deposed by a coup d’état led by the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw, who took power over the country. Unrest has gripped Myanmar ever since.

Pro-democracy, anti-Junta protests in Myanmar have been violently squashed by the junta. The New York Times reported in April this year that the junta was trying to eliminate resistance movements along the country’s borders.

SOURCE: Channel3, Matichon

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.