Burmese Junta Bars Monks From Traveling Abroad

June 15, 2009

Author: Min Lwin

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Irrawaddy


Burma’s Ministry of Religious Affairs is effectively prohibiting Buddhist monks from traveling abroad by refusing to issue letters of recommendation, according to senior monks in Rangoon.

Without a letter of recommendation from the ministry a monk cannot apply for a visa to travel to a foreign country.

A monk from a monastery near Rangoon’s revered Shwedagon Pagoda said that Rangoon’s religious department stopped issuing the letters last week.

“There are currently several monks in Rangoon who are waiting for visas but who have been refused letters,” he said, adding that young Burmese monks often travel abroad for Buddhist study, especially to India and Sri Lanka.

Another source said that two Buddhist monks were recently barred from flying by authorities at Rangoon’s Mingaladon International Airport because, although they had foreign visas, they did not have letters of recommendation from the government.

A monk who asked to remain anonymous told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the officials at the religious affairs department had denied his application for a letter, even though he was seeking to go abroad for health purposes.