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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Western Thailand Buddhist temple that served as rehab center closes amid shocking abuse allegations


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A Thai temple in western Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, the “Wat Tha Phu Rat Bamrung”, also known as “Wat Tha Phu”, which also serves as a rehab clinic, has been closed over allegations of ransom demand, torture and violation of human rights. Due to the startling allegations, the temple is under investigation by the Narcotics Control Board and the Ministry of Health.

The administrators of the temple claim that they have to close because the temple has no one to supervise the center. A Thai newspaper adds that the abbot who started the rehabilitation project passed away last Monday. They say he was already in poor health, but the stress of the charges only worsened his condition.

Earlier this week it was discovered that more than 200 patients had been housed in the temple in appalling conditions . They were transferred to a field hospital at the Khao Chon Kai Territorial Defense Student-Training Camp.

An unknown number of patients were picked up from the hospital by relatives. When the families learned of the abuse allegations, they said they were shocked and unaware of the conditions in which their relatives lived.

Some patients were there of their own volition and others had been ordered by the police to stay there rather than a criminal record. The patients had to pay 12,000 baht upon entering the rehab and had to pay another 2,000 baht for food. They also had to pay 10,000 baht in compensation if they were fired early or if they violated their 12-month contract. A majority of the patients stayed in the center to avoid the hefty fine; although Thai newspapers write that the only treatment the program offered was essentially just prayer.

They went on to say that more than 200 patients were trapped in 1 room with 2 bathrooms. Patients say they have contracted illnesses and skin conditions because of the decrepit conditions.

The families claim that despite paying 2,000 baht a month for food, their relatives only got 1 meal a day, or 2 meals if they were lucky. On days when the patients weren’t so lucky, they had to eat spoiled rice and eat from the same bowls they used to bathe or flush the toilets. Up to 10 patients were forced to eat from the same bowl and use the same spoon.

Patients who complained about treatment or tried to escape were mistreated by staff, a leading Thai newspaper reported. They add that the staff, consisting of rescue and medical officers, were hired by the abbot.

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