Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monks At An Execution

Photo Courtesy of Khaosod - Story Courtesy of Matichon Online

NONTHABURI – It was time to bring out the bodies of two executed prisoners, but the Bang Kwang Ghost Door would not open. The officer had to use Sonax spray to grease the door frame and pry the door open with a crowbar in order to bring out the bodies. A monk from Bang Phrak Tai temple revealed that in the final minutes before the execution, a prisoner bawled and begged for mercy, while the other asked if he could hold onto the monk’s yellow robe.

The lethal injection was used today to execute two prisoners at Bang Kwang Central prison in Nonthaburi. Mr. Bandit Charoenwanit, 54-years-old and Mr. Jirawat Phumphuek, 45-years-old, both criminals with drug charges.

The correctional officer from the central prison came to inspect and repair the door connecting the prison to Bang Phrak Tai temple. The door is widely known among locals and prison officers as the ‘ghost door,’ – the single door used to transport bodies out of the prison.

Today, as the correctional officer brought the key to open the ghost door, it would not budge. Rust and stains had fused the door-frame and damaged the keyhole. The moving of the corpses was delayed – and people on the other side of the ghost door peeked through the key hole and watched as the guard officers unlocked the leg chains from the two prisoners; before they were loaded into donated coffins. Later, the officers had to use Sonax spray and a crow bar to take down the door.

The first body that came through the door was Mr. Jirawat Phumphuek; two of his relatives waited outside to see him. They carried a pot filled with incense, used in rituals to deliver the spirit to the after-life. Leading the ritual was Monk Sri Nonthawat, head monk of Bang Phrak Tai temple. Jirawat’s corpse was brought to rest inside the temple. The second body belonged to Mr. Bandit Charoenwanit, and was taken away in a van for religious practices in Fang Thon.

A school teacher, Mrs. Supida Phisamai, along with 80 grade seven and ten students from Nakorn Nonwittaya School also attended the ritual to witness the consequences of committing crimes and wrongdoings. It was seen as a lesson in the essence of Dharmic truth.

Monk Sri Nonthawat, head monk from Bang Phrak Tai temple who gave a final prayer to the two prisoners before they were executed, spoke of their final moments. Mr. Bandit Charoenwanit was deep in sorrow and cried his eyes out during the whole process. Mr. Jirawat Phumphuek, on the other hand, remained totally calm and silent. At the very last minute he asked the monk if he could hold onto his yellow robe.

“Attama (monk term meaning “I”) felt very sympathetic and empathetic towards the prisoners’ fates, but the essence of Karma is dependent on one’s own actions. No single person can erase or wash away their sins,” said Monk Sri Nonthawat.

Courtesy of Matichon Online

Writer: Adrian Tse & Chet Chetchotisak