09/22/2007, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Thousands of monks march on Yangon “until the regime falls”

An open challenge to the military dictatorship. The demonstrations in many cities take place under the watchful eye of the police. UN “seriously concerned”.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s Buddhist monks has confirmed that they will continue to march and pray until the military Government falls.  The Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks has released a statement in which the Junta is described as “an enemy of the people”.  The declaration moreover confirms that they will continue their peaceful protest “until they have wiped the military dictatorship from the land of Burma”.

The statement came as 1,600 monks took to the streets of Yangon in their biggest protest yet at recent government attempts to silence critics.

This is the fifth straight day of monks gathering at Shwedagong Pagoda from where they march and chant through the city streets.  Bystanders link arms to form a human chain to prevent attacks from the armed forces, while other followers join in the marches.  Today’s march was filmed by the police, but no clashes were reported.

Meanwhile in Mandalay, another large city to the north of the country, thousands of monks took part in demonstrations.  Yesterday in Yangon there was another march that drew thousands together, monks and ordinary people, from the Pagoda Shwedagong to the pagoda Sule, beneath a driving monsoon rain.

Since the beginning of the week the monks have been demonstrating in answer to the Junta’s violence against a monastery in Pokokku in early September, for which the Buddhists are demanding an official government apology.

The monks in Pokokku had been taking part in a peaceful protest march against the hike in fuel and transport prices.  Their support is giving new life to criticism of the regime, responsible for the country’s widespread poverty and many Human Rights violations.

Meanwhile, the United Nations' special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, told the Security Council that recent protests and the military regime's subsequent crackdowns raised "serious concerns" and underlined the urgency of resolving the political turmoil there. Professor Gambari told the council in a closed-door session that he plans to visit Myanmar but has set no date.

 

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