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Hundreds of monks protest against junta in Burma

YANGON -- Nearly 400 monks staged a peaceful demonstration in the central Burma town of Kyauk Padaung on Monday, showing their discontent on the ruling junta.

The monks in Kyauk Padaung, about 600 kilometers north of Yangon, marched peacefully on early Monday morning to protest against daily-life hardships of the people and the junta's violent crackdown on the other protesting monks earlier this month, a resident of the town said.

The protest was the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations in Burma, sparked by the junta's decision on Aug. 15 to raise fuel prices up to five times.

Hundreds of onlookers followed the monks when they marched for about two hours in Kyauk Padaung, chanting prayers meant for the well-being of the people, the resident said.

The military junta cracked down on a similar protest by the monks in Pakokku, another central Burma town, earlier this month, sparking anger and discontent among the country's approximately 300,000 monks population.

Over 200 monks in Pakokku were protesting against the general hardship of the people and on fuel price hikes on Sept. 5, when the local authorities violently cracked down on their peaceful march, firing several warning shots and beating some of the participating monks.

Unlike in Pakokku, the authorities did not harass the monks marching Monday.

Some secretly formed monk associations in the country last week had demanded the junta's apology for their mistreatment towards the Pakokku monks, and urged all the other monks to start boycotting the junta by Tuesday if it failed to meet the demand by Monday.

The monk associations, through foreign radio broadcasts, called for a nationwide boycott by the monks, asking them to refuse any donations from the junta members and its supporters starting Tuesday.

It is not clear how many of the country's monk population would join the boycott.

Without any previous warning or announcement, the military government on Aug. 15 raised the price of natural gas by up to five times, doubled the price of diesel fuel and raised the price of gasoline by 67 percent.

Activists and opposition party members across the country have been protesting against the price hikes and adverse living conditions since Aug. 19, despite brutal crackdowns and arrests.

According to Amnesty International, more than 150 people have been detained in Myanmar since Aug. 19.

//Kyodo news


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