Conflicts & War

Myanmar Buddhist monks join protests against military junta

Bangkok, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- The highest body of Buddhist monks in Myanmar has decided to stop its activities in protest against the military junta, urging it to stop killing, arresting, and torturing unarmed civilians, local media reported Wednesday.

The State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (Mahana) of monks decided it in a meeting on Tuesday amid widespread state violence against protesters.

At least 200 civilians lost their lives in firing by security forces on pro-democracy protesters over the last six weeks.

A committee member told local news portal Myanmar Now that the initiative was similar to the “civil disobedience movement” launched by Myanmar health workers against the junta.

Officials and workers of other sectors too joined the movement later in protest against the Feb.1 coup.

The monks will Thursday submit their decision in a six-point official document to the ministry of culture and religious affairs, which oversees the Buddhist committee.

Around 90 percent of Myanmarese practice Buddhism.

Buddhist monks had in 2007 led the so-called Saffron Revolution, a brutally suppressed series of protests against the economic situation and the military administration of the time.

Later, the military authorities began a transition towards “disciplined democracy,” and partially transferred power in 2011.

But the army reserved 25 percent of the seats in the parliament for the force and kept the crucial ministries of defense, interior, and borders.

After the unstoppable rise of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who registered landslide victories in 2015 and 2020, the military once again seized power.

The military arrested several civilian leaders on Feb.1, when the new legislature was to be sworn-in.

Since the coup, authorities have arrested more than 2,000 people.

Out of these, over 1,600 remain in custody. They include Suu Kyi, the former de-facto head of the country.

Despite facing severe repression with batons, tear-gas shells, and being shot with rubber and live bullets, protesters have continued to come out on the streets against the junta every day, demanding the release of the detainees and restoration of democracy. EFE-EPA


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