Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI), the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, will soon be issuing an arrest summons for devoted Buddhist monk Phra Dhammajayo from Wat Phra Dhammakaya, who now stands accused of receiving stolen property and money laundering. The allegations stem from illegal donations made to the Dhammakaya temple by the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC)’s Chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn four years ago.
According to Freedom Watch International, the organization formed to defend the Abbot, the donations to him were made openly and with no attempt at concealment, which would not be the case if there was any intention of money laundering. The depositing of checks and the utilization of funds were all handled by the temple’s financial officers. FWI believes that in order to rightfully accuse someone of receiving stolen property and money laundering, there must be evidence of wrongdoing and a conspiracy to embezzle the money for personal use. No such evidence exists; and Supachai has even released a statement confirming this.
Srisupa-aksorn was convicted of embezzling more than 11 billion baht in member funds and is currently serving a 16-year sentence. Shortly after the trial ended, the Wat Phra Dhammakaya agreed to a 684-million-baht repayment settlement reached in at Thanyaburi Provincial Court. When the circumstances of the KCUC embezzlement case were made known to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, supporters set up an emergency fund in the amount of 600 million bhat, or roughly equal to the amount Supachai donated to the temple, in an attempt to help depositors by supplying funds to the credit union’s cash flow.
The original donations were unsolicited and earmarked to build religious structures and to assist with the operating expenses of the temple, which is the largest in Thailand, with more than one million devotees and a large community of resident monks and novices. At the time of the original donations, there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Supachai also donated to other temples, schools, universities, public charities and government sectors.
Inaccurate reports have appeared in the media suggesting that the Wat Phra Dhammakaya supports the Pheu Thai Party. While the temple has many devotees from different ages, genders,regions, occupations and political views, its primary focus is strictly teaching the Dhamma of Lord Buddha, and it has no intention to be involved in politics. Interestingly, no other group that knowingly or unknowingly benefitted from the embezzled funds has to date been charged, suggesting that Phra Dhammajayo is being singled out by the DSI.
The 72-year-old Phra Dhammajayo, who has faithfully devoted himself to the propagation of Buddhism and Dhammakaya Meditation for 47 years, helping to attract millions of devotees in Thailand, in 80 branches and 33 countries around the world, now suffers from several illnesses, including deep vein thrombosis and a chronic leg ulcer, which was confirmed by a panel of independent doctors. The DSI has chosen to ignore the health of the Abbot, and has made no attempt to verify his condition.
An April attempt to arrest Dhammajayo was rejected by the Criminal Court of Thailand, yet the DSI have announced that they will issue another summons for the Abbot May 16. With clear evidence that he had no knowledge of the source of the unsolicited donations from Supachai before any criminal act was revealed, and the subsequent raising of funds to assist the victims of the Klongchan scandal, the question must be asked why the DSI remains so committed to discrediting Wat Phra Dhammakaya and the Buddhist establishment in Thailand.
Phra Dhammajayo lives a life of great simplicity and purity, having contributed billions of baht to public charities, including financial aid to 30,000 teachers in Southern Thailand. His temple provides requisites and food for the mass-ordinations of more than 10,000 monks, twice-yearly in towns and villages throughout Thailand, and offers relief for the victims of natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes and tsunamis.
The magnificent structures at Wat Phra Dhammakaya have been built from public support and without any government funding, and will remain the property of the nation and Buddhism for future generations to come.
Freedom Watch International is calling for an immediate halt to the arrest order for Phra Dhammajayo and no further criminal prosecution. To urge the U.S. State Department to intervene on his behalf, supporters can sign a petition on change.org.