Gas Week

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Burma fuel insurgency: Monks swear to refuse alms from military officers; dooms soldiers to underworld:”Without Buddhist merits, you are going to hell”

Posted by gasweek on 25 September, 2007

More than 300 monks took to the streets of Rangoon on 19 September, drawing hundreds of people, reported The Australian (20/9/2007, p.9). Police did nothing to break up the protest, but security officials earlier used tear gas and fired warning shots in the air to disperse 1000 monks protesting in Sittwe, west of Rangoon. The Rangoon rally was signifi­cant because the monks took an oath to refuse alms from military officers — a powerful sign of dissent in the Buddhist country. The trigger was a fuel price-rise.

Popular uprising may follow: “This is the beginning of popular mobilisations against the junta,” said Aung Thu Nyein, a Thai-based Burma analyst “For Burmese people, monks are like parents and teachers. If they act, people will join them because Since the protests began a month ago, the authorities have arrested more than 150 people, but Win Min, another Thai-based analyst, said the generals were cautious about a public backlash if they acted against the monks.

Monkish rebellion: He said the monks’ refusal to accept alms from the military was religiously significant.” “Without Buddhist merits, you are going to hell. If monks refuse your alms,’ it means you will suffer,” he said. “It’s a dilemma for the junta. If they don’t crack down on protests by monks, more people will join. But if they do, it could trigger massive public out­rage against the Government.” Two weeks ago, soldiers beat protesting monks with bamboo sticks in Pakokku, near central Mandalay, prompting young monks to briefly kidnap officials at a monastery. Win Min said the monks might have been compelled to take action against the regime in the face of dire economic conditions, as the fuel price rises left many workers unable to afford the bus fare to work. “Monks need to go out to receive food from people, but people are getting poorer and poorer. Monks see people’s daily sufferings at first hand.”

The Australian, 20/9/2007, p. 9

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