Monks in Myanmar are tired of the military dictatorship that restricts their freedoms of religion, speech and assembly. They’ve been tearing shit up. From Time:
On Wednesday in the commercial capital Rangoon, hundreds of Buddhist clergy gathered around the nation’s beloved Shwedagon pagoda to protest August price hikes that are pummeling an already impoverished populace. More than a thousand monks also rallied in other parts of the country, their daily alms routes turned into paths of protest. […]
Clapping handcuffs on Buddhist monks is a far more difficult proposition in this deeply devout nation. “The monks are the only ones who really have the trust of the people,” says Khin Omar, an exiled dissident now living in Thailand. “When they speak up, people listen.”
On September 5, protests by clergy members in the holy city of Pakokku turned violent when security forces fired warning shots in the air, only to have the monks respond by taking officials hostage and torching their cars.
Unholy behavior, perhaps. But the incident prompted senior spiritual leaders to demand an apology from the government by Sept. 17 or else rallies would resume. On Tuesday, with no apology in sight, the monks began marching anew.
The Guardian keeps it up to the minute:
Monks may now be assuming the vanguard because top pro-democracy activists were rounded up soon after the start of the demonstrations, said Debbie Stothard of Altsean-Burma, a Bangkok, Thailand-based coalition of non-governmental groups working for human rights and democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“In these situations, the monks have sought to protect the civilian population by taking sole responsibility for these protests,” she said by e-mail. “Despite this, if the monks are violently attacked en masse, it will be inevitable that the rest of the population will weigh in.”
“We will stage our marches every sabbath day,” said another monk who sat on a huge ornamental chair. The next Buddhist sabbath falls on Sept. 26.
“Monks are our only hope now as they always have been in Myanmar political history,” said Hla Myint, a 75-year-old schoolteacher.