(Interview) – The abbot of Maggin Monastery, U Einda, 52, has been a monk for 32 years. He was released from Lashio Prison on Friday. He was arrested in connection with his support of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution.” Mizzima reporter Phanida talks to him about prison life, being re-ordained as a monk, President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi and the future of Burma.
Question: Did you learn of your release in advance?
Answer: The prison staff spread the word about what state-run TV said on Thursday. I was released without signing any papers, with full freedom.
Q: What were you charged with and for how many years were you sentenced to imprisonment?
A: I was charged with four cases under the Penal Code involving insulting of religion and causing offence against public tranquility and peace. And I was charged with more cases, but I don’t know what laws they are. I was not interested in them at that time.
Q: How many prisons did you stay in?
A: I was transferred to Lashio Prison from Insein.
Q: Please tell us how you were arrested?
A: They raided our monastery on September 26, 2007, around midnight. They arrested all the monks found at our monastery and took us away by cars. I was walking on the premises of our monastery because I knew that they would come to arrest us. I told them we were ready if they wanted to arrest us. Even so, they tied us and covered our heads with our robes. They dragged me from the monastery.
Q: How do you feel about the release?
A: I feel happy but our monastery is still sealed so I am “on the road.”
Q: What difficulties did you face in prison?
A: We had a lot of difficulties in prison, but we don’t see them as difficult. The prison treated us well after President Thein Sein’s government took office. They gave us better food and treated us better since then. The situation has changed drastically during these years.
Q: How do you see Thein Sein’s new government?
A: In my humble opinion, Thein Sein’s government is moving to a democratic system and democratic forces like Aung San Suu Kyi are pushing the government too, so that both forces of opposition and government are reconciled on the same goal. I think the situation will lead to a better future. The international community seems to agree.
Q: Have you been disrobed?
A: I am being re-ordained at Pan Oak monastery in Lashio now. I am being re-ordained by nine abbots from Myingyan.
Q: What more would you like to say, your reverence?
A: Our country is now going to a democratic system to catch up with the world and to be a prosperous democratic country. Aung San Suu Kyi has joined hands with us in this great task. So I think if all democratic forces at home and abroad work together in a concerted effort in this task, our country will be greatly changed and develop. I’d like to urge all people to try to work together.
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