Dhammakaya Uncovered compiles news articles that report our side of the story
The volunteers here at Dhammakaya Uncovered work hard to present the truth about the Dhammakaya controversy to the public. Whether it is translating critical information that Thailand-based English newspapers ignore, or providing information on how Thai laws work with regard to monks, the volunteers do their best to present our side of the story.
However, we know that our word alone isn't good enough for a lot of people, even if it is heavily based on fact, such as what the definition of money laundering is. Therefore, we have taken the liberty of compiling a list of third party news articles from major news outlets ranging from BBC to The Wall Street Journal, whose journalists had the courage to report on what is really going on with the Dhammakaya controversy.
"As so often in Thailand, the official explanation is misleading. Allegations of financial malpractice have hung over the temple and its charismatic abbot for decades. They also hang over many other institutions and individuals in Thailand, many of whom are neither investigated nor prosecuted. To be pursued by the state with this much commitment suggests that much larger issues are at stake."
"The military arguably staged the 2014 coup in the hope of steering the impending royal succession in ways that would safeguard the interests of the establishment. Now it is trying to control the Buddhist establishment as well."
Dr. James L Taylor is Adjunct Associate Professor, Anthropology & Development Studies, University of Adelaide. He has written extensively on Thammakai (Dhammakaya) since the late 1980s and 1990s. Dr. Taylor argues that the bogus case against the temple is the junta's attempt to take the temples assets and take control of Buddhism in the context of "reform".
(This website is currently banned in Thailand, so we are linking to another site that has the article so that those in Thailand would be able to read it)
"That the very independence of Buddhism in Thailand is at stake; that not content with grabbing the reigns of democracy, the junta also needs to grab the reigns of Thailand’s majority religion."
"It's a unique sight because since the army staged a coup in May 2014, small protests have been quickly shut down, the leaders often taken away for days of "attitude adjustment" and threatened with longer periods in detention.
Some who have made critical comments online have been hauled before the shadowy military court on trumped-up charges such as sedition, or have been convicted of breaking article 112 of the constitution which is designed to prevent any criticism of the monarchy, a law that many say is often abused for political gain."
"Parallels are drawn to China’s Falun Gong and Turkey’s Gulenists. Both were fast growing religious groups using modern methods, which were suppressed when their influence grew too great."
"Whenever Thailand is in political turmoil, Dhammakaya has been a target"
"Those familiar with the junta's thinking say there is more at stake."
"Most importantly, Thais must realise that there can be more than one version of Buddhism. Dhammakaya should be free to interpret and teach whatever it considers right. It should be subject to debate and criticism, but not harassment from the government."
"There's a political undercurrent to this story, and some believe the government wants to destroy the temple because its become too popular and powerful."
"That’s why there’s an operation to destroy Dhammakaya."
“When a certain group of people in power, especially when they attained power that way, I can understand their fear.”
"General Prayut's government says it is simply enforcing the law. But it is having trouble shaping the narrative, especially when influential figures seem to indicate that there are other plans in store for Dhammakaya."
News Reports on Thailand's overall situation
In a free and fair press, it is easy to find both sides of the story. While not included here, there are international reports that are indeed anti-Dhammakaya, as it is their right and freedom to do so. However, if you get your news on Dhammakaya from Thailand-based English news, you will notice that, with very few exceptions, the coverage is almost unanimously negative. That is because Thai press has historically been ranked quite low in press freedom, with press freedom worsening in recent years. Thailand is currently ranked 142 out of 180 countries by press freedom. To put that in context, number 180 is North Korea and number 120 is Afghanistan.
To understand the Dhammakaya case, it is also necessary to understand what it's like in Thailand. While our argument may sound almost like a conspiracy theory to the English world, what's happening is not in the slightest bit unusual in Thailand. It is extremely common practice among dictatorships to get rid of those they don't like with bogus criminal charges. For a few examples of Thailand's state of freedom and "justice", check out the articles below.
"In the same case the commerce and deputy commerce ministers in her government were sentenced to an astonishing 42 year and 36 years in prison, respectively. Of course, the trial never was fair."
"Press freedom in Thailand continued to deteriorate in 2015 following a 2014 military coup"
Junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha responds to reporters’ questions about how government will deal with those who depart from official line.
"Two eight-year-old girls have been charged in Thailand for tearing down voter lists for a controversial upcoming referendum, as the ruling junta goes to increasingly bizarre lengths to muzzle dissent."
"The NCPO granted power to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to punish critical media. Outspoken news analysts at Voice TV and Spring News channels were suspended because of their critical reporting about military rule. In July 2016, Peace TV channel was forced off the air for 30 days."
"A senior official from Thailand’s National Reform Council has suggested that journalists be given the death sentence if they issue reports critical of the military."