Thai authorities detain well-known anti-Muslim Buddhist monk
Thailand Police Col. Dusit Promsin in the southern province of Songkhla said the monk, Apichart Punnajanto, was detained there Tuesday by officers from the Crime Suppression Divisionworld Updated: Sep 21, 2017 00:00 IST
Thai authorities have detained a Buddhist monk who has posted online videos that harshly denounce Islam.
Police Col. Dusit Promsin in the southern province of Songkhla said the monk, Apichart Punnajanto, was detained there Tuesday by officers from the Crime Suppression Division. Officers of the division refused to comment, but Dusit said the monk was taken into custody because of videos he had posted online, though he did not describe the content.
Apichart has spoken out on many issues, but is best known for posting a suggestion that a mosque be burned down anytime a monk is killed by Muslim separatist insurgents in the country’s deep south, where more than 6,500 people have been killed since an insurgency flared in 2004. The violence occurs mostly in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominated nation, but has on occasion spilled over into neighboring Songkhla.
Apichart also recently renewed a feud with a government religious official, saying in a video that he filed a defamation suit against him and sarcastically urging people in the south, where the official was recently transferred, to give him a “warm welcome.”
The military government that took power in 2014 after staging a coup has the power to detain people without due process if they are considered a threat to public order or national security. They are frequently held briefly for what is called “attitude adjustment” before being freed without formal charges.
The Cross Cultural Foundation, a rights group active in the south, said it doesn’t support actions by religious leaders that instigate conflict among religious groups, but urged Apichart’s immediate release.