Local police officer Kyaw Mya Win, told Myanmar news reporters, “This is not a normal case, and when we were informed that the monk was arrested, we were all shocked.” The Irrawaddy also reported on the incident, claiming that this seizure is the first time that police in Maungdaw have ever arrested a monk for drug dealing. Following Arsara’s arrest, reports have claimed that his religious career is now very likely to be over. As drug trafficking is certainly not considered to be very ‘monk-like’, and Myanmar’s Religious Affairs Minister, Soe Min Tun, has since indicated that faith would not be enough to save him from prosecution. He said, “What will happen to the monk is that he will have to give up his monkhood right away and face trial as an ordinary person.”
Although religious drug lords are not arrested often, the Myanmar authorities have recently cracked down on the country’s thriving drug trade in the past few years. In 2016, the authorities seized 21 million methamphetamine pills near the Chinese border, whilst another 6.2 million were also seized near the monastery where the most recent stash was found, on the site of a Maungdaw construction company. Last year’s total methamphetamine tablets seized by police totalled around 98 million tablets – a record amount.
(by Jess Murray for Truth Theory)