09/19/2007, 00.00
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Tear gas and warning shots against protesting monks

The Buddhist monk’s boycott of military alms goes into effect. Thousands demonstrate against the unpopular policies of the Junta on the anniversary of the 1988 protests. Sit-in in front of Chinese embassies throughout the world, Beijing is the Burmese dictatorships biggest ally.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Burmese military junta has admitted using tear gas and having shot in the air against the thousand monks who yesterday demonstrated in Sittwe, north west of the country.  State TV MRTV and press agencies today report one civilian and 9 police officers injured n the protest.  International agencies also report arrests.


The public protests were organised by the “The Alliance of All Burmese Monks”, which is also asking fellow religious to refuse the traditional alms from members of the military and all connected to it.  The almsgiving is an important spiritual duty for all good Buddhists: a sign of respect and of merit, it is a means of purifying oneself from evil and gaining merit in view of reincarnation. The Monks refusal of the alms is sign of strong moral reproof, in short comparable to excommunication.  The monks had given the government an ultimatum, which expired September 17th to excuse themselves for violence used by the military to dispel protests in Pakokku on September 5. Since August 19 the country has been in ferment following the unexpected and unjustified price hike in fuel prices which have brought Burmese families to their knees.


Yesterday’s protests held in cities across Myanmar coincided with the anniversary of student’s protest of September 18 1988, bloodily repressed by the military.  Following this event the current military junta called elections, which however declared invalid by the generals who lost in the ballot to the “League for Democracy” for Aung Saan Suu Kyi.


In Yangon, ex capital, almost 400 people marched while chanting religious hymns.  The march was to have drawn to a close in Myanmar’s most important pagoda, Shwedagon, but the army had curtained off the area in a preventative measure.  Hundreds of passers-by showed their solidarity with the religious in loud applause.  In Bogu, 80 km from Yangon, a further thousand monks took to the streets marching on to the Shwemawdaw pagoda.


The protests have even overflowed the Burmese boarders.  Yesterday human rights activists organised sit-in protests in front of Chinese embassies in 14 cities worldwide, with the aim of drawing public attention to Beijing’s support of the Burmese dictatorship.


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See also
Exiled monks urge new anti-regime protests
Junta shuts down monastery close to pro-democracy movement
Burmese blogger sentenced to 20 years for "mocking" General Than Shwe
Three monks killed by Burmese army
Fourth day of protests, monks call for UN intervention


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