Sittwe: 47 orphans from Maha Muni Buddha Vihara orphanage have been moved by authorities to an undisclosed location after their orphanage was closed and sealed off on Monday.
A social worker from Sittwe said, "The authority brought 47 orphans aged between 5 and 7 from the orphanage to an unknown place on a bus labeled Kyin Din Aung on Monday. We do now know why or where the children have been moved by authorities."
People in Sittwe strongly suspect the 47 orphans were taken to Rangoon and Mandalay to be placed in orphanages run by the military government.
The Burmese military took steps to move the children to undisclosed locations after the orphanage was sealed off by authorities on Monday, after the abbot of the orphanage, Ashion Pyinya Sara, was arrested.
More than 100 orphans had been living and studying at the Maha Muni Buddha Vihara orphanage in suburban Sittwe for a long time.
"The other 70 orphans have been detained at the Sittwe No. 1 police station since the 47 were taken to unknown locations. Among them are some young adults who many expect will be sent by the authorities to army recruiters to join the army," the source said.
Because of reports they would be conscripted, some of the adult orphans fled from where they were being detained at the police station.
Authorities have also prepared to send the rest of the orphans to other places soon, but no one knows where they will be sent.
"We are now anxious about the children and many people in Sittwe oppose the authority's plan for sending them to unknown locations and the army recruitment unit. Now the issue is facing public criticism in Sittwe," the man said.
5 months ago