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Guns, not monks, at monastery on Myanmar's Thai border

Refugees and orphan monks live meters from the army they escaped

On the Myanmar side of the border with Thailand, the ordination hall at the Wah Fah Waing Inn monastery now sits atop a fortified base. (All photos by Lorcan Lovett)

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE, Thailand -- In a different world, Wat Fah Wiang Inn would symbolize the power of faith to transcend the borders between two largely Buddhist nations. Trust and tolerance, not guns, would hallmark this monastery straddling the Myanmar and Thailand border in the hazy Shan Hills, which stretch from Yunnan in China through Myanmar and into Thailand.

Instead, the Myanmar military has built bunkers, dug deep trenches and layered pits with bamboo stakes on the Myanmar side of the border, surrounding a seven-tiered ordination hall whose Buddha statue faces a pagoda a few meters away in Thailand.

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