Vietnam pagoda accused of forcing teen monks to boil hands in extreme honesty test

By Huyen Trinh-Tran Thanh Phong, Thanh Nien News

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Two novices from a pagoda in Soc Trang receive treatment for hand burns at a hospital after some monks forced them to put their hands into boiling water to prove that they did not steal $51. Photo: Huyen Trinh Two novices from a pagoda in Soc Trang receive treatment for hand burns at a hospital after some monks forced them to put their hands into boiling water to prove that they did not steal $51. Photo: Huyen Trinh

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A family in the southern province of Soc Trang has requested the police to step in as two novice monks at a Buddhist pagoda, one of whom their son, suffered severe burns after being asked to take an unorthodox lie detection test. 
The teenagers said some senior monks at the pagoda forced them to dunk their own hands straight into boiling water to check if they had stolen money from the pagoda.
The two novices were told that their hands would be completely fine if they were innocent.
One of them, identified as Loc, 18, said some monks who kept money at the pagoda found VND1.1 million (US$51) was missing on March 14.
They gathered all members of the pagoda for questioning. The chief monk was going out that day.
Others got to put their hands in cold water to prove their innocence, but Loc and the other novice, Mai, 15, had to put theirs in hot water which was boiling on a gas cooker.
Loc said the monks forced them to do that three times. Mai obeyed but he could not.
“I ran to hide in a room after the first time. The monks pulled me out, hit me on the head and strangle my neck. Then I fainted.”
He said the monks then locked him and Mai in a room so that they could not tell anyone.
They escaped after three days and their families took them to hospital.
Doctors who are treating the boys said their hands have been severely damaged and the skins were coming off. 
Tang Hoang Na, the chief monk, said he was sorry about the incident. 
He said the pagoda has demanded the monks responsible to apologize to the families. The pagoda will cover all the medical costs, he said.
But Mai’s family, who informed the police, said they are not ready for any negotiation.
"Our son's life was severely threatened," they said. 

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