Thai Junta uses Article 44 on Dhammakaya

The Thai Military government has used its unlimited authority, known as article 44, against the Dhammakaya temple. Article 44 allows the Junta to do anything it wants, with no restrictions or limitations. 

Here is a summary of the order issued via article 44 as well as a translation of the order in English. 

Read the full order here. 

 

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Has the Office of the Attorney General formally charged Ven. Dhammajayo?

The Supreme Court of Thailand, which is reviewing evidence on the case against Most Ven. Dhammajayo (Phrathepyanmahamuni), has set its sights for November 30th 2016 to make an official announcement as to whether there is enough evidence to warrant charging Ven. Dhammajayo for money laundering and colluding to embezzle money.

Instead of waiting until the end of the month, spokespersons from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) have issued an unsolicited statement that, in OAG’s view, there is sufficient evidence to indict Ven. Dhammajayo.

Media outlets throughout Thailand have interpreted this statement to mean the court has formally charged Ven. Dhammajayo, despite the OAG’s assertion that he has not yet been indicted or charged. In order to formally charge him, an arrest first needs to be made, followed by an interrogation and testimony, and then a decision will be made as to whether to press charges or to decline to press charges.

Again, Ven. Dhammajayo has not been charged despite reports to the contrary by the media. 

The video below is a short excerpt (51 sec) of the press conference with the relevant statements. Source: https://youtu.be/-xMWC23lx2g  Click on [CC] to view subtitles:

 

Below is a translation of the full 28 minute OAG press conference held on November 23, 2016. Source: MGROnline (https://www.facebook.com/astv.manager.crime/videos/800179840121994/)

Lieutenant Somneuk Siangkong, a spokesman for the Office of Attorney General, and Mr. Chatpong Jiraphan, Deputy Director General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), makes a joint statement about the corruption cases in Klongchan Credit Union (KCUC).

Lieutenant Somneuk Siangkong, a spokesman for the Office of Attorney General:

This is a press conference with all members of the press.

Today’s press conference concerns the progress of the case against Mr. Supachai Srisupak-aksorn and associates for the crimes of money laundering and receiving stolen properties from Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC).

In addition, we will also give details of other cases related to the KCUC corruption case. The Department of Special Litigation (DSL) and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) have also received several case files from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to further investigate.

The media and the public have been closely following the case of Mr. Supachai Srisupak-aksorn and his associates, alleged to have committed the crimes of money laundering and receiving stolen properties from KCUC.

Let me refer to this prepared statement since it contains some facts and data. I want to make sure that everyone receives accurate information.

  • According to Case no. 27/2559 that DSI sent to DSL for consideration on June 13, 2016, it involves the plaintiff--Mr. Thammanoon Attichoti and associates, and the suspects they accused of laundering money. The 1st suspect is Mr. Supachai Srisupak-aksorn, the 3rd suspect is Miss Saranya Manmad, and the 4th suspect is Mrs. Tongpin Kunlong. They also accused Phrathepyanmahamuni, the 2nd suspect, and Miss Sasithorn Chokprasit, the 5th suspect, of conspiring to launder money and receiving stolen property.
  • The investigation officials presented Suspects #3 and 4 together with the case files to the public prosecutor. Suspect #1 is currently serving a sentence from another case.
  • The investigation officials have arrest warrants for Suspects #2 and 5 but have not arrested them yet. Therefore, the suspects have not been presented to the public prosecutor.
  • After receiving the case files for this important case, a working group was formed and headed by Mr. Chatpong Jiraphan, the Director-General for DSL, to investigate this case.
  • The public prosecutor and DSL, who are part of this working group, together considered the case and ordered DSI officials to further investigate additional issues.
  • DSI officials sent additional files to this working group several times, the latest being on Friday, November 11, 2016.
  • The working group scheduled the next hearing for Wednesday, November 30, 2016, at 9:30 AM.
  • Please note that the working group, the public prosecutors, and DSL have thoroughly considered all evidence and witness testimonies, including letters requesting a fair and just process from the suspects. Therefore, yesterday on November 22, 2016, we wrote an opinion and put forward an order for Suspect #1, already sentenced in another case, and the suspects that the investigation officers already sent to the public prosecutor–Miss Saranya Manmad (3rd suspect) and Mrs. Tongpin Kunlong (4th suspect). We ordered charges to be filed against Suspects #1, 3, and 4 for the crimes of conspiring to launder money, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 1999 (2542 BE), Sections 4, 9, and 60.
  • DSI officials have not sent the following suspects to the public prosecutors: Suspects #2 and 5, Phrathepyanmahamuni (or Phrarajbhavanavisudh), and Miss Sasithorn Chokprasit.

The statement I will be making next uses legal terms in accordance with the law.

  • The public prosecutor is of the opinion that the 2nd and 5th suspects should be charged for conspiring to launder money and accepting stolen property, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 1999 (2542 BE), Sections 5, 9, and 60, and the Criminal Code Sections 357 and 83.
  • The prosecutor informed the DSI Director of the need to bring Suspects # 2 and 5 into custody and send them to the public prosecutors for processing within the 15 year statute of limitations, which starts from the date of the offence.

What I’ve stated above is how the OAG would proceed with the case (the one being followed closely by the media), as to how the Supreme Court would determine the merit of the case.

There are a few additional points that I would like to bring to the media’s attention. The details of the case, which I just informed you of, is what OAG received from DSI.

However, DSI and AMLO have not sent the case files for several cases relevant to the KCUC corruption case to OAG. As of now, the DSL have already processed three criminal cases.

  • In the first case, Mr. Supachai was sentenced to 14 years and 24 months for embezzling from KCUC. For the 2nd and 3rd cases, the details can be found in the press release.
  • There are two other civil cases that AMLO sent to the public prosecutor and DSL, to consider in regards to the KCUC corruption case.
  • It is the case that the AMLO sent to the public prosecutor and DSL. DSL filed a request with the court that the properties Supachai and his team embezzled from KCUC belong to two cases. The details are in the press release that you have received.

I have informed the media of all the key points. If you have any questions, Mr. Chatpong Jirphan and I will be addressing them.

Q: Will there be an effective strategy to track Phra Dhammajayo and the other suspect, because much time has passed and he still can’t be found even with an arrest warrant?

  • (Chatpong) A: If I may, I would like to offer two points to the spokesperson regarding this case. Has everyone received the press release?

I would first like to make sure everyone understands the basics so the news can be written accurately, without any misunderstanding.

On the second page, there are two groups of suspects. Page 2, Items 1 & 2.

In this case, there are two groups of suspects. The first group - the investigation officials already sent to the public prosecutor. We already conducted an investigation of those suspects and processed the case according to Criminal Procedure Code Sections 141 and 142.

We can file charges against the suspects who have been sent to us: 1. Mr. Supachai, 3. Ms. Saranya, and 4. Tongpin. All three people have met with the public prosecutor, so we can file charges with the court immediately. And we’ve scheduled these three to come in on November 30th for the hearing. We will then file the charges. These are the steps for the suspects that we have met.

For the second group, we call them suspects with no body. What does this mean? It means the suspects are known, but we have not been able to bring them in. They are Phrathepyanmahamuni (2nd suspect), and Miss Sasithorn Chokprasit (5th suspect). These are the suspects that the media asked about earlier.

We know who the two individuals are but have not been able to bring them in. And according to the Criminal Procedure Code, we have to hear both sides. In a legal proceeding, we always have to listen to both sides.

Investigation officials, public prosecutors, and courts, all have to listen to both sides–the suspects who have been accused and the plaintiff.

As of now, we have to accept that we have not met Suspects # 2 Phrathepyanmahamuni and # 5 Miss Sasithorn Chokprasit for questioning. Thus, the public prosecutors only have an opinion for now.

Please note that the first and second items are written differently.

The first item says that the public prosecutors ordered the filing of charges for the 1st, 3rd, and 4th suspects.

Item 2 is just an opinion that a charge should be filed. All these are based on the Criminal Procedure Code.

An opinion that a charge should be filed - what does that mean?

It means that at this point in the investigation, we have considered the statements made by the accusers, and the evidence gathered by DSI, and Mr. Thammanoon Attichoti, the accuser.

After considering their statements, we believe there is enough evidence to file a charge. Then what?

Once the public prosecutor has offered an opinion that charges should be filed, we will order DSI officials to find the 2nd and 5th suspects, Phrathepyanmahamuni and Miss Sasithorn Chotprasit, and bring them to us within the 15 year statute of limitations, starting from the date of the offense, which is January 2009.

The investigation officials are responsible for finding these two suspects and sending them to the public prosecutors. Then, we can file charges with the court. Without the suspects physically present, we cannot file charges with the court.

Once they are brought in, they’re interrogated and permitted to testify. This is in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Once they testify, we will consider any additional evidence and witnesses, and will re-evaluate our assessment to see if any adjustments should be made.

If the accusations have merit, then the OAG will confirm the charges.

If the opinion is incorrect, as a result of additional witnesses, or if new information is discovered, then the OAG may decline to press charges. However, the OAG can reconsider their opinion and resummon the case. And this is in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Therefore, I want to make sure we share the same understanding that at this point, it is only an opinion that a charge should be filed, which is different from Item 1.

That means that the investigating officers are responsible for finding the suspects.

Now, I will answer your question about when the suspects will be arrested. This is the responsibility of the investigating officers. According to the law, they have the power to search, arrest, and send the suspects to the public prosecutors.

And when? We did not determine the date, and did not precipitate. We only told them to find us the suspect within the 15 year statute of limitations. If that time frame as passed, we will not be able to do anything.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the investigation officials to process this case further. This is the first point I want to make.

The second point is also important to note. The OAG summarized cases relevant to the corruption of KCUC in the press release you are now holding. In this press release, you can see that we are handling several cases, not just this one case. There are 4-5 other cases, both civil and criminal.

We have coordinated with AMLO and DSI, and on behalf of the OAG, I would like to clarify the misunderstandings regarding the reason behind the public prosecutors’ repeated investigations into this case.

We have actually conducted a re-investigation of this case only twice.

But DSI officials have been sending the investigation files piece by piece.

I want to clarify that the objective in processing this case is not only to bring the offenders to justice, but we want to protect the victims in this case.

If you’ve been following the news, you would know that the KCUC case has a tremendous impact on the system of cooperative institutions.

There are thousands of victims, with damages amounting to over 10, almost 20 billion baht. Therefore, it affects the overall economy,  and the victims have suffered severely. Some victims are elderly; they invested the last amounts of their savings with the KCUC only to be betrayed.

So, what we are doing is not only bringing the offenders to justice, we are tracking and trying to return the money to the victims.

You can see that in every case, we try to follow the money trail so we can gather as much information as we possibly can regarding the actual money path so we can request the court to order the offenders or anyone who now has possession of the money to return it to the victims.

This is why we need to conduct a thorough investigation. If all we only wanted to do was bring the offenders to justice, it would not be difficult at all. If we had sufficient evidence, we only needed to file the charges. But we have another objective–to take care the victims in this case; so we need to be extremely thorough.

The cases listed on pages two and three are both civil and criminal cases. In the civil cases, we already filed charges according to the evidence gathered by AMLO. We handed the property over to the court, which becomes national property, and from there the victims can request a share of this property.

For the criminal cases, we requested that the court return the money to the victims. We have a list of the victims’ names and the monetary value that the offenders must pay back.

If the court agrees, the victims can go to court to request these funds be returned to them. So, we’re processing the case meticulously, thoroughly, and slowly, which may feel too slow for many, but we are trying to support the victims by tracing the path the money has taken and returning it to the victims. This is why we need to investigate the money trail thoroughly. There are a lot of numbers, and we cannot make any errors. So some of the things may have been slow.

But after receiving the case files from DSI on November 11th, we have been working at full capacity.

There was an order yesterday, which are outlined in the two points:

  • First, please note that the wording is different for orders and opinions.
  • Second, the reasons this case has taken so long to process are listed. We would like to ask the media to present accurate information, so the public can have the facts.

Q: What about the letter from the lawyer requesting fairness from OAG, claiming that the money received does not fit the definition of money-laundering. Is this part of the evidence?

  • (Chatpong) A: I would like to say that in the Criminal Procedure Code, the suspect has to give the testimony himself and has to appear in front of the public prosecutor. The suspect has to be notified of the charges, and when the suspect testifies, the public prosecutor can weigh the evidence. But for now, the suspect has not yet given his testimony, but has granted power of attorney to his lawyer, whose testimony we’ve already considered.
  • In the request for fairness, we will consider everything. But at this stage, the testimonies and evidence from the plaintiffs are sufficient to file a charge.

Q: This means that DSI has to first locate the suspect in order to proceed with the investigation?

  • A: Correct. The steps are: Arrest and bring into custody. Interrogation. Testimonies by the suspects. And then transference of suspects to the public prosecutors.

Q: As for the victims, will they have to wait 15 years before getting their money, or can they receive it during the 15 year period?

  • A: We will make the request. Once the court approves the request from the public prosecutors, the victims can go to the court [to ask that their funds be returned]. Fifteen years is the lifetime of the criminal case that we will file.

Q: That means they [the victims] do not have to wait until [the other two suspects] are in custody?

  • A: The victims can use many channels. In the civil case filed by the public prosecutor, there was a request that the money be vested to the civil case (as written on page 3). The victims now can request a share of this money. This is the victim’s right according to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
  • As for the criminal case where charges have been filed, we will have to wait for the court to decide, e.g., the case in Item 1.2 on page 2. We filed charges against Mr. Supachai and two other people for money laundering and public fraud.
  • The public prosecutors then requested that the court order Mr. Supachai and his associates to return the 5.6 billion baht to the affected victims. We have a list of victims and their monetary damages. We will do this for every case. For every case, we try to protect victims’ rights as much as possible. However, if the victims cannot wait for the outcome of the criminal case, they can use their rights to file a civil lawsuit. The law does not prohibit that.

Are there any other questions?

Q: Based on the case files DSI sent to the public prosecutors, can you tell us the amount of money allegedly laundered by Phra Dhammajayo?

  • A: You’re referring specifically to this case, right? Allow me to give everyone rounded figures because giving out specific numbers will compromise the case. There were 27 checks paid from Suspects # 1, 3, and 4 to Suspects #2 and 5–about 1.4 billion baht in total between January 2009 to April 2013.

Q: Can you tell us if this laundered money was ever used to construct anything?

  • A: The specifics are in the case files, and revealing them will compromise the case, and will affect witness testimonies to be carried out by public prosecutors. Filing charges against Suspects # 1, 3, and 4 must take place at the court, with further investigation of witnesses and evidence to be carried out. If I may, I can only inform you of this much.

Let’s take two more questions.

Q: As for the two individuals, you have requested that they turned themselves within November, is that correct?

  • A: The first suspect, Mr. Supachai, has been sentenced to prison, as indicated in Item 1.1 in the press release, under Case no. 74/2557. When we file charges, we will request temporary custody from the prison in order for him to appear in court. The public prosecutors will request custody. Suspects #3 and 4 have been informed of their hearing date. It is their responsibility to show up on the 30th, where the public prosecutors will file charges against them. If they fail to appear, we will issue an arrest warrant.

VoiceTV: Not the 1st time Acting Abbot has been Appointed

Voice TV, July 11, 2016, Thai language source: http://news.voicetv.co.th/thailand/387648.html

The Ecclesiastical Sub-district Head of Klong-Si revealed that this isn’t the first time Wat Phra Dhammakaya has submitted a formal request to appoint an acting abbot. Ever since Venerable Dhammajayo became ill, he hasn’t been able to fully perform the duties as abbot. The Sub-district Head also said that he had visited Ven. Dhammajayo in the past and can confirm that the abbot is truly ailing.

Venerable Phrakruvijit-arpakorn, Abbot of Wat Sawangpope and Ecclesiastical Sub-district Head of Klong-Si [Klong Luang district, Pathum Thani province] received a letter from the lawyers of Wat O-noi in Nakorn Pathom, who have been given power of attorney by Phra Buddha Isara, to expedite the investigation of Phrathepyanmahamuni, or Ven. Dhammajayo, Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, for transgressing the Vinaya - the Monastic Code of Discipline - and the law of the nation. The lawyers said it has contributed to the deterioration of Buddhism and are hoping that something can be done.

As for the designation of an acting Abbot for Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the Sub-district Head reiterated that Wat Phra Dhammakaya has submitted requests for years ever since Ven. Dhammajayo became ill [the appointment is six months in duration] and that Ven. Dhammajayo is genuinely ill.

Klong-Si Sub-district Head said that appointing an acting abbot has been done consistently for some time now, with each period lasting six months. He said, "Ever since I became the Sub-district Head in 2011, Ven. Dhammajayo had always been in ill-health." The Sub-district Head appointed Ven. Phrarajbhavanajarn (Ven. Dattajeevo) as acting Abbot a long time ago; it didn’t just happen.  

Pol. Lt. Col. Somboon Sarasit, deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) recently disclosed that they are in the process of acquiring additional evidence in certain areas as ordered by the Office of the Attorney General. DSI will push to complete this process before 13 August 2016, which is the date the Office of the Attorney General will announce the lawsuit.

A second request for a search warrant of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has not been clearly specified. Initial estimation is that it will take about two days to open a path to reach Ven. Dhammajayo since they assume that a large number of devotees of Wat Phra Dhammakaya are expected to congregate at the temple to practice meditation.

Recap of Wat Phra Dhammakaya Press Conference: June 7, 2016

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On June 7, 2016, Mr. Ong-Art Thamnita, Spokesperson of Supporters and Followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya delivered a public statement. We have translated the recap of this press conference below.

1)

There have been instigators seeking to divide Buddhism, according to the Post Today’s headline: “Phra Payom sees through Phra Dhammajayo’s game, urging to cut food supplies”. The Dhammakaya temple teaches its followers to respect every single monk and would like to decline any political involvement in all cases. Everyone visiting the temple must set aside their political differences. The Abbot deeply respects the laws, and he only speaks the truth and has never spoken ill of others. This is absolutely contrary to what Phra Payom has claimed. 

Mr. Somkiat Onwimon has posted defaming posts on his personal twitter account, which is against the Computer Act. Numerous Buddhist groups have reported this to the police.

500 Venerable monks in different provinces of Thailand offer flowers to the Abbot as a way to give their support to the Dhammakaya temple.

TNews’s headlines: “Dhammakaya temple is brainwashing its followers, and all the monks around Thailand are arrested for receiving donations from people.” These headlines are damaging to Buddhism. The venerable monks from various provinces in Thailand have concluded that phlegmatism will lead to the downfall of Buddhism, and this could happen during our lifetime. We must fight and are willing to give up our lives to protect Buddhism. What has recently happened in the news is pure slander. The Abbot has never touched the money. The Dhammakaya temple has a Committee that handles its finances.

2)

The fabricated rumors that the temple is an independent state.

Some newspapers accused the temple of being an independent state. The Dhammakaya temple rejects this claim entirely. The Dhammakaya temple is a Buddhist temple not an independent state or sub-state. The temple was built lawfully just like any other Buddhist temples. Accusing the temple’s followers of treason is a serious accusation.

3)

Criticizing the Abbot’s medical teams

Some medical professionals have accused the Abbot’s medical teams of staging his illness. This action is not according to the medical code of ethics. The Dhammakaya’s legal team has compiled evidence of slander and attempts at defamation against these medical professionals. The posts that are perceived to be ill-intended will be submitted to the Medical Council requesting such posts to be deleted and a statement of apology issued.

4)

Some police officers suggested the temple beware of a “third party”

We would like to thank you for your concern. If there are any suspicious persons in the temple, they will be asked to leave the temple premises immediately.

The temple’s lawyer and the legal team are pressing charges against Phra Buddha Isara and Mr. Paiboon Nititawan. These two individuals have acted unlawfully such as defaming Somdej Chuang, the acting Supreme patriarch. The legal team is pressing charges on behalf of Buddhism as a whole, not just as Dhammakaya followers. This action is not being influenced by someone behind-the-scenes.

12 May 2016 KCUC Speaks Out After DSI is Urged by Third Parties to Expedite Case

Mr. Prakit  Pilangkasa, Committee Chairman for the Revival of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) speaks out after Mr. Thammanoon Attichoti and Mr. Paiboon Koomchaya urges DSI to expedite the case on 10 May 2016

Full video in Thai

Transcript of the 12 May 2016 KCUC Press Conference:

Klongchan Credit Union Corporative (KCUC) has tens of thousands of members, and he [Mr. Thammanoon] is just one of the members. Recently, we’ve created a recovery plan to repay our debts to our members and creditors, so it’s not unusual to hear differing opinions on this matter. This plan was proposed by the current Board of Directors. Mr. Thammanoon is a member who is entitled to his views, and his views are independent of our present plans. He has been engaging in activities for some time now that expresses views which oppose those of the Board. I’ve only come to learn of his actions at DSI yesterday after watching Mr. Paiboon’s interview.

Q: Does KCUC support yesterday’s action by Mr. Thammanoon, Mr. Paiboon, and Mr. Mano [Laohavanich]?

A: It has nothing to do with us. Let’s take them one by one. Mr. Mano gives an interview that portrays the credit union negatively; so we are consulting our lawyers whether legal action can be taken. Mr. Paiboon has absolutely nothing to do with us. All we know is that as a political figure he has a certain responsibility in society and influence. We all know what his personal opinions are on such things. He has no ties with KCUC whatsoever. Mr. Thammanoon is the only one out of the trio who actually has ties with KCUC. He is free to express his opinions. Whether his actions are disliked or violate anyone’s rights, the victims will have to make that evaluation themselves.

Q: Has Mr. Thammanoon ever demonstrated similar behaviors at the credit union?

A: He has regularly expressed his disagreements with the Board of Directors’ actions through various social media outlets. The differing of opinions are often expressed as criticisms, and they are views that anyone can have. The board has the duty to carry out its policies and follow its plans. Although Mr Thammanoon’s views differ from the board’s, we do not criticize him. If any of his ideas were useful, we will take them into consideration. However, we will not implement ideas that we disagree with.

Q: Is Mr Thammanoon’s recent action beneficial to KCUC members?

A: As I’ve said earlier, we have many members. Some of the members suffered from the crisis, which have been reflected through different means: some extreme, some peaceful. I’m quite certain that many of the members have questions about the plausibility of Mr. Thammanoon’s ideas. I believe that the majority of them believe in our plan for recovery. When we had our meeting to vote on this plan, 88% [of the board of directors] were in favor because 80% of all members agreed with this plan of action. Mr. Thammanoon was part of the group that disagreed, but since we follow a democratic structure, we must follow the action plan voted by the majority.

Q: There was a letter submitted to DSI Director, saying that the special funds from the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya were given to the KCUC to urge the credit union to withdraw both civil and criminal lawsuits against Ven. Dhammajayo, and only a partial amount of the funds were given, a portion of the funds that were said to be the actions of these 2 individuals. The funds were not meant to be a refund, but came with a clause that it may be recalled by law, even though Ven Dhammajayo and Wat Phra Dhammakaya have over a billion that a lawsuit may be filed for. If the credit union filed a serious lawsuit against them, you may receive all the money back with interest to repay the members. The agreement clause was written in favor of Ven. Dhammajayo, and not the credit union’s members.

How would you clarify this issue that also alleged the credit union?

A: The recovery plan must find funding to repay debts that include debt to tens of thousands of members, and over 70 other credit unions, amounting to 18 billion baht. Therefore, the source of these funds must come from several places, as the plan states. One of the sources is the funds from the lawsuits against Mr. Supachai and associates. A large sum of money was taken from the credit union through Mr. Supachai’s cheques. It is a lot of money compared to the amount the temple received. Yes, the temple has a lot of assets. In reality, we filed civil lawsuits against Mr. Supachai, Wat Phra Dhammakaya, and Most Ven. Dhammajayo. We never filed any criminal lawsuits against the temple. We have been in contact with the temple about refunding the donations since we saw that it was the member’s money, used wrongly by Mr. Supachai. The supporters of the temple wanted the problem to cease and to preserve the image of the abbot, so they raised the funds themselves to help the members of the credit union. It was not Ven. Dhammajayo’s money. On our side, we filed many lawsuits against Mr. Supachai and never got a dime because the cases have not concluded. The prosecutors made a decision, but the refund never arrived. We currently have one billion baht in funds. The first amount of 684 million was the first sum which we will use to repay the members this June. If anyone said that the funds from the supporters of the temple was not helpful, that is not true. The only reason we could repay any of the debtors is because of the temple. This is the truth.

Q: Lastly, what would you like to say to the third party joining KCUC members and causing lots of confusion?

A: I’ve very disappointed in the non-members who joined the mob. The information they gave was information from Mr. Thammanoon because he has said the same things many times before. The third party who joined yesterday just repeated Mr. Thammanoon’s opinions.

Q: Do you have anything to say to the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya?

A: The members realize that the amount of money received to aid us was not a small amount. To be honest, it wasn’t even their obligation to sacrifice that much money. It was an act arising from their faith. The credit union would like to thank the supporters. Though there were clauses and agreements that came with the money, they were all reasonable.

Q: What’s the truth behind the 6% interest on this 600 million from the supporters of the temple? Any truth to the supporters tagging on a 6% interest to the 600 plus million funds?

A: I’ve never heard about this 6% interest before.

Q: The funds were not meant to only help, but it came with interest.

A: The credit union has a plan to help affected members by allowing for loans no larger than 50,000 baht. We will charge a 6% interest. Let me be clear. We are not using the temple’s money, 684 million, which will be used in June. The loan that has 6% interest is from another sum of funds. Each month we will allocate about 10 million to be borrowed and allow members in need to take out a maximum loan of 50,000 baht at 6% interest.

Q: Are the funds that the temple supporters gave to the KCUC subject to recall?

A: There is an agreement because it is not the abbot’s money that’s being returned. It is a fund raised with the agreement that if in the future, the court decided what Mr. Supachai took wasn’t KCUC’s money, we will have to return the funds to the supporters. This is just hypothetical.

Q: What about the accusation that in exchange for the money you will not pursue legal actions against Luang Por [Ven. Dhammajayo]?

A: Only the court can decide who is right or wrong. What we did was for the benefit of the credit union’s members.

Q: Mr. Thammanoon tried to show that his actions yesterday represented the attitude of all 50,000 members. He acted on behalf of all members, filing a criminal lawsuit for receiving stolen property. Is he a representative for all the members?

A: When we watched the news and the newscaster asks anyone a question, they always claim to be representing the people. I don’t think it’s that way. Real members would know who is who. Who agrees with Thammanoon, and who are outsiders. For outsiders, I think they should try to learn the situation fully first.

Q: What will be the consequences of Mr. Thammanoon’s press exposure?

A: It will create a bad image for the credit union. This would hinder the plan of action. Debtors who hold a net worth of over 9 billion baht agreed, with 80% confidence, with the plan of action.  Even the government agreed to help find funds if the members were in favor. Even the court was sure that the government wouldn’t abandon the credit union. Therefore, the plan was sanctioned by many sectors. People who disagree would not know if their own ideas would be guaranteed to work better than our plan or not.

Buddhist Organisations Continue to seek a peaceful outcome from General Prayuth Chan-o-cha

Buddhist organisations from several other countries have submitted letters to Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha requesting his help to bring the problems at Wat Phra Dhammakaya to a peaceful conclusion.

The Theravada Buddhist Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, the Buddhism Today Foundation in Vietnam, and the Bangladesh Buddha Kristi Prachar Sangha Organisation submitted their letters to the Thai Prime Minister requesting his assistance in the case involving Phrathepyanmahamuni, the Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, for his alleged involvement in the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement affair.   

These charges have been vigorously denied by representatives of the Abbot, who question the legality of the charges. For instance, the plaintiffs (KCUC members) should have filed suit with the credit union, not the Abbot; the illogical conversion of the original civil case into a national criminal case; and as admitted to recently by DSI - this case is a duplicate of one already trialed (converting the role of the Abbot from a witness to that of a suspect - without any new evidence) with the results submitted to the Office of the Attorney General.

In their letters to General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, the three Buddhist organisations state that they understand the accusations against the Abbot are being investigated according to Thai law, and that the government authorities will make a decision on this issue.  However, they also ask that the government deal with this case carefully, as the Abbot is now seriously ill, and the manner in which it is handled will affect followers of Theravada Buddhism worldwide.

They also question the motivation and behavior of the officials of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), in their repeated refusals to examine the 72 year-old

Abbot in his medical ward at the temple, and ignoring the health certificate issued by a panel of doctors, while pressing ahead with an arrest warrant.

To see all of the awards visit the Dhammakaya website

 

1 June 2016 Press Conference held by Supporters and Followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya

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Summary of Key Points

1 June 2016 14.30 hrs. Video in Thai here.

By Ong-Art Thamnitta and Leelavadee Wacharobol

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In regards to the news that has spread regarding the temple resorting to brute force, awaiting reinforcements, and barricading the premises:

Mr. Ong-Art: This is completely false. The temple has only opened the main entrances, and will keep only these open. This includes the entrance from Klong Luang Road. There is no barricade but only young volunteers to welcome visitors. Entrance 5 is also open and supervised on a regular basis. Some TV channels have claimed that additional backup--strong, able-bodied men--have come into the temple steadily. This, too, is not true at all. Only the lay congregants have come in to practice meditation.

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Some individuals have wondered about the barbed wire installed above the temple walls. The answer is the other side is private property and has nothing to do with the temple. The barbed wire is there because the temple supporters are concerned about safety.

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Heavy equipment vehicles have been removed from the entrance in front of the main chapel because the situation has improved. The vehicles did not belong to the temple, but rather they belonged to supporters who were concerned about Ven. Dhammajayo’s safety. Additionally, the local residents have listened to news from the prime minister who reassured them that nothing will occur, leading them to move their trucks.

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Another unfounded allegation is: The portable toilet tents are used to conceal the digging of trenches to prevent access to Ven. Dhammajayo.

Mr. Ong-Art: This tent is basically a portable bathroom. (He also demonstrates how it is used.)

From the allegations by the Justice Minister who said, “Do not use the masses to obstruct the law.” Wat Phra Dhammakaya continues to fully respect the law.

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The allegations related to Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC):  Why hasn’t there been an investigation into donations made to other organizations. Why is the focus solely on the temple?

Two KCUC executives were previously interviewed, and the video was broadcast at the press conference: The supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya have established a fund to help the credit union members who were affected by the case. We do not understand the accusations brought by Mr. Mano and Mr. Paiboon that the temple has engaged in wrongdoing, as they have nothing to do with the case.

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Ms. Leelavadee Wacharobol spoke about the sharing of a post via social media, which stated ‘if Ven. Dhammajayo is truly guilty, she and his supporters will hang themselves’.

Ms. Leelavadee refuted these claims, saying that she has already filed a claim with the police and will pursue the maximum legal action available.

If what the Minister says is not true, we ask that he be penalized or request that he ask for forgiveness at the government office. He has to be held accountable for spreading these rumors, which has caused the temple and Ven. Dhammajayo to be seen as guilty by the public - although the information has merely been speculations.

Ms. Leelavadee emphasized that Ven. Dhammajayo teaches people to be virtuous, to meditate, and to share the truth with the public in a respectable manner.

It concluded with questions from reporters:

Will there be a medical examination of Ven. Dhammajayo by the Medical Council?

Mr. Ong-Art indicated that we are past that juncture. It is no longer necessary for the medical examination to take place. At this time, this matter is being reviewed by the governing Sangha.

Lastly, during lunch hour today, Buddhist monks from the northeast region came to offer their moral support to Ven. Dhammajayo.

INNNews & WINNEWS: World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council pleads with Prime Minister to Use Peaceful Means with Ven. Dhammajayo Case

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May 31, 2016 14:53 Thailand time 

Source: http://www.winnews.tv/news/3881http://www.innnews.co.th/shownews/show?newscode=702510

A letter from the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council (WTBSC) to H.E. General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha implores him to find peaceful means to halt the human rights violations of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Phrathepyanmahamuni (Most Venerable Dhammajayo).

Venerable Pasura Dantamano, Chief of International Affairs Division at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, indicated that the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council has filed a letter via email with the Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha requesting that he find a peaceful resolution.

At the present moment, Wat Phra Dhammakaya is in a delicate position that warrants grave concern for its abbot, who is defamed and being unjustly charged by Thailand’s (DSI). Since the lawsuit lacks solid evidence, the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council fears that he is being unfairly persecuted.  

DSI has violated many laws, including issuing an arrest warrant based on the mere reason that Ven. Dhammajayo did not meet with DSI officials as requested. This is in spite the temple’s plea for DSI to present the abbot with his charges at the temple due to illness that had been verified by a panel of doctors.     

The temple confirms they submitted this request to DSI repeatedly so that they could send their panel of medical specialists to verify Ven. Dhammajayo’s health condition at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. What is suspicious is DSI has refused to respond to their plea and insists on issuing an arrest warrant, which is considered a clear violation of patient rights.

DSI has indicated that it will enlist the help of 2,200 troops in order to arrest the ailing 72-year old monk. Ven. Dhammajayo has dedicated his entire life to fostering world peace and disseminating Buddhism. The attitude and actions of DSI are short of justice and beyond what is necessary. This creates tremendous doubts and uncertainty for other organizations working toward peace and morality.

WTBSC, thus, requests H.E. General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, to review this matter and generate a peaceful solution to end all violations by DSI on Wat Phra Dhammakaya. WTBSC firmly believes H.E. will understand the sensitivity of the situation and will move forward in a manner most appropriate and most compassionately towards this Buddhist monk.

Security measures around Wat Phra Dhammakaya have been set up.  Venerable Noppon Punyachayo, Deputy Director of Communications, admitted there has been just cause for the increased security measures that included installing barbed-wire onto the temple’s external walls and other areas, and increased numbers of CCTV to monitor people entering and exiting the temple. However, Venerable Noppon affirms that there has been no use of force and that the temple remains positive. There is concern and precaution against third parties who may cause unnecessary problems.

At the same time, the International Buddha Education Institute and YSSSR Foundation (IBEI-YSSSRF) in India presented the 2016 Symbol Peace Award to the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni Dhammajayo Bhikkhu and the 2016 Global Peace Ambassador Award to the Dhammakaya Foundation to recognize their “devotion, dedication and commitment towards the development of peace and harmony in society.”

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Additionally, letters from other organizations located in Korea and Japan have been sent to ask the Prime Minister to intervene in the case including the Theravada Sangha Senate of Korea; We Love Peace Association of Saitama, Japan; and the Thai-Japanese Relations Association of Tokyo, Japan, amongst others.

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BangkokBizNews: Dhammakaya Not Worried About Water-Electricity Cut Off, Denies Mobilizing Human Shield

May 29, 2016, 7:30 AM Thailand time

Source: http://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/700067

Dhammakaya is not worried about water and electricity cut off. Denies mobilizing human shield. Fears third party entering and exiting the premises

Throughout the day at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, supporters continuously arrived to join in meditation and the overnight retreat at the Temple. A recording of Venerable Dhammajayo’s guided meditation is played during the meditation sessions. Meanwhile, Mr. Ong-art Thamnittha, spokesperson for the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, confirmed that the masses of people coming to the Temple are not here to pressure anyone but to meditate, wish Ven. Dhammajayo a speedy recovery from his illness, and offer their support. Backhoe trucks are used to block some of the entrances to the temple except for the main gate to prevent third parties from instigating trouble. Mr. Ong-art affirms that it is not meant to be permanent. People can still enter and exit the temple. The temple’s supporters respect the law and will not resort to violence.

In respect to DSI’s plan to cut food supply, water and electricity, Mr. Ong-art believes that DSI won’t carry this out. But if DSI does, there shouldn’t be any problems or concerns because everyone joining the meditation retreat is practicing detachment from all comforts and conveniences. This is a practice on patience and perseverance.

NationTV22: DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo

DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo. 5,000 Monks-Supporters estimated to be at the Temple. NationTV22

DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo.

5,000 Monks-Supporters estimated to be at the Temple. NationTV22

May 27, 2016 17:05 Thailand Time

Source: http://www.nationtv.tv/main/content/social/378503257/

A source says that today DSI estimated there were about 5,000 people at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including monks and lay people. There were more people today than yesterday (May 26). DSI believes people will continue to come to the temple. State authorities are observing all 15 entrances and are preparing for operations in the next step of their plan, which is to stop the transportation of rice, and disconnect water and food supplies to Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

This will prove who has more endurance - the temple supporters or the state authorities. The government is confident that its forces are stronger because police reinforcements can be mobilized at any time. Once food and water supplies are cut, the Temple’s supporters will gradually leave the Temple. The authorities will then reestimate the number of people who remain inside the temple and ask them to leave before the authorities conduct an inspection within the temple premises. To avoid conflict, this is the gentlest approach. 

The source stated that in the long term, the government wants the public to see what’s right and to express their opinions in order for the Sangha to pressure and investigate their own members. Nonetheless, Venerable Dhammajayo’s current location cannot be determined. He is most likely inside the Dhammakaya Cetiya, but [DSI] requests cooperation from the press as he may have relocated to another location.

BangkokBizNews: Statement by Anti-Money Laundering Office

Source: http://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/635772

Released on 20 February 2015 17:28:30 hrs.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) points out that confiscation of Wat Phra Dhammakaya’s properties in connection with the case related to Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative cannot be done. The money trail is clear. The money was used for construction of religious facilities. This is not money laundering. The law governing religious properties is also clear: religious lands and properties belong to the nation. They cannot be confiscated.

On 20th February 2015, Police Colonel Sihanart Prayoonrat, Secretary General of the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), explained to the public the situation involving cheques amounting to over 700 million Thai baht paid by Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, former Chairman of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, to Wat Phra Dhammakaya. AMLO’s investigation indicates that Mr. Supachai had paid several cheques to Wat Phra Dhammakaya; each one amounted to no less than 100 million baht. Officials from Wat Dhammakaya gave testimonies that all of the money in question went to pay for construction of religious facilities. Documents and receipts produced by Wat Phra Dhammakaya substantiated this fact. Documents produced by the bank also substantiated the same fact.  

According to law, land and property owned by Buddhist temples belong to the nation. AMLO cannot confiscate them.

The case of Wat Dhammakaya was compared to a case involving a celebrity named Pakorn Chatborirak from whom AMLO had confiscated a Lamborghini. Both cases involve violation of law according to AMLO, but in the case of Wat Phra Dhammakaya the law is quite clear: religious lands and properties cannot be confiscated because they belong to the nation. AMLO has no authority to do so.

KCUC Members Show Division Over the DSI Allegations Against Ven. Dhammajayo

On May 10th, 2016, at 2:30 pm, a group of Klongchan Credit Union Corporation (KCUC) members sent representatives to submit an open letter to the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang. Chief Special Agent Porntep Sarasiri accepted the letter on his behalf as Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang would not receive the letter due to a lack of scheduled appointment.

Mrs. Yuparet Woravittayanon, a representative of KCUC members, handing the open letter to DSI’s Chief Special Agent Porntep Sarasiri

Mrs. Yuparet Woravittayanon, a representative of KCUC members, handing the open letter to DSI’s Chief Special Agent Porntep Sarasiri

The group of members of the KCUC had the intention to protest Mr Thammanoon Atshotee, and his mob, who gathered in front of DSI earlier on the same morning. The gathering lead by Mr Thammanoon was to represent another group of KCUC members who were encouraging DSI to continue their vigorous investigations on Phra Dhammajayo. Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang came out to receive the letter himself. There was no public evidence that Mr Thammanoon made any previous appointment to hand in the letter to Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang.

Mr Thammanoon Atshotee is a current member of the KCUC who has been nominated to be elected as part of the new KCUC board of directors.

From left: Dr Mano Laohavanich and Mr Paiboon Nititawan, representing KCUC members, handing the open letter to DSI’s Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang.

From left: Dr Mano Laohavanich and Mr Paiboon Nititawan, representing KCUC members, handing the open letter to DSI’s Chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang.

However, witnesses in the area reported that many individuals in the morning crowd, lead by Mr Thammanoon Atshotee, were not actual members of the KCUC, but went because of an invitation from other people, not knowing what the mob was actually there for. It is unknown how many of the morning crowd were actual representatives of the KCUC members. The list of names of KCUC members supporting DSI investigation have not been made public.

Dr Mano Laohavanich and Mr Paiboon Nititawan, also joined the morning mob, neither of whom have any affiliations to the KCUC. However, they have been consistently opposed to the Dhammakaya movement and anything related to Wat Phra Dhammakaya and the temple’s abbot.

Soldiers Obstruct a Peaceful Gathering

Soldiers obstruct a peaceful gathering of Ven. Dhammajayo's supporters at the Damrong Dhamma Center in Sisaket Province on May 3, 2016.

Soldiers obstruct a peaceful gathering of Ven. Dhammajayo's supporters at the Damrong Dhamma Center in Sisaket Province on May 3, 2016.

Soldiers obstructed a peaceful gathering of supporters pleading for justice in the case against Ven. Dhammajayo last week.

On May 3rd 2016, over 200 of Ven. Dhammajayo’s supporters went to Damrong Dhamma Center in Sisaket Province to submit a plea for justice letter. During this peaceful event, a group of soldiers came to threaten the crowd of supporters. However, without retaliation, the supporters continued in their efforts to submit the open letter plea for justice at the Damrong Dhamma Center.

Notably, many groups of Ven. Dhammajayo’s supporters submitted their plea for justice and protection against DSI’s allegations. DSI has issued a summons for Ven. Dhammajayo, which may lead to an arrest warrant on the upcoming date, May 16.

Both the government officials and officers have cooperated in each province. Sisaket Province was the only exception. Soldiers arrived and spoke to the supporters in a threatening manner. However, with an unfaltering heart full of faith for Ven. Dhammajayo, the supporters stuck to their conviction and submitted their plea for justice to government sectors, including Sisaket province’s Damrong Dhamma Center, the Office of Buddhism, and City Hall. Everyone welcomed the supporters with greetings and smiles… except for the soldiers who were very keen to just intimidate people.

This was not the only instance that the military tried to interfere and repress actions of the free citizens in Thailand. It has been, and continues to be, a chronic occurrence ever since the military took over the governance of the country. See what the Chicago Tribune has to say about this in their article: "Military repression halts progress: So much for paradise in Thailand"