Rakhita Prize to be Awarded to Prisoner Monk Rammarwady Ashin Pinnyasara

By Maung Aye
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Tokyo: The Japan-based Arakan Nationlist Group said it has selected Rammarwady Ashin Pinnyasara, who is imprisoned by the Burmese government for his patriotic work, for its annual “Rakhita” prize for national conservation.

U Kyaw Than Hlaing, the spokesperson of the group, said the members chose Ashin Pinnyasara by a ballot system on 14 December, and the prize will be awarded to him on 31 December, which marks the 227th anniversary of the downfall of the Kingdom of Arakan to Burmese colonial rule.

“We have chosen the venerable monk for the prize after reviewing his selfless service for Arakan. He is a scholar who has made so many valuable contributions to Arakan history and has worked hard to flourish and preserve Arakanese patriotic spirit, culture, and religion, and he is such an affectionate person who has founded an orphanage to nurture the abandoned and orphaned children in our homeland,” said U Kyaw Than Hlaing.

Venerable Pinnyasara was arrested in July 2010 at his orphanage, Mahamuni Buddha Vihara, in the capital Sittwe. He was forcibly disrobed from the monk-hood and sentenced to eight years and three months in prison by the Burmese authorities in September 2010 on charges of hiding children’s dead bodies, possessing illegal foreign currencies, misappropriating the orphanages funds, failure to comply with municipal laws, and having sexual relations with the orphanage’s maid. He is now being held in Tharat Prison in central Burma’s Magway Division.

When they arrested him, authorities also confiscated his collections of many ancient artifacts of Arakan, including coins, Buddha statues, palm-leave scriptures on Arakan history, and books on traditional medicine. They then shut down his orphanage and sent over 100 of the children to central Burma.

The general opinion among Arakanese people at home and abroad is that his arrest was nothing more than a ploy by the authorities so they could confiscate the priceless ancient Arakanese artifacts he had collected, and suppress his selfless endeavors for the cultural and social welfare of his own national people.

Kyaw Than Hlaing said his group created the $1,000 prize this year to honor the individual who has done selfless service for the cause of Arakan and its people, and they also have plans to expand with separate prizes in the fields of literature and music in the coming year.