Myanmar Monks Demonstrate Their Opposition to the Military Junta.
Hundreds of pro-democracy Buddhist monks marched through the streets of Myanmar’s second-largest city on Saturday, protesting the military takeover on the 14th anniversary of previous clergy-led mass protests.
Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy has been paralyzed since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian administration in February, putting an end to a ten-year democratic experiment.
Anti-junta resistance has taken root across the country, causing the military to retaliate with a savage crackdown on dissent. According to a local monitoring group, more than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 8,400 have been imprisoned.
Monks have long been recognized as an ultimate moral authority in Myanmar’s primarily Buddhist society, organizing communities and mobilizing opposition to military regimes. However, the coup has uncovered a divide in the monastic community, with some senior clergymen endorsing the generals and others siding with the demonstrators.
Hundreds of monks dressed in brilliant orange and scarlet robes marched through Mandalay’s streets with flags and banners, throwing colorful streamers in the air.
A protest organizer told AFP that “monks who love the truth stand on the side of the people.”
The monks called for the release of political detainees, including members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, which won a resounding victory in the election last November.
Some monks held upside-down alms bowls, which are normally used to collect food contributions from the community, as a mark of defiance against the junta administration known as the State Administration Council.
“We must take risks in protesting since we could be arrested or shot at any time. “It is no longer safe for us to live in our monasteries,” a 35-year-old monk told AFP.
In 2007, Buddhist monks organized massive protests across the country against the former military junta rule, sparked by a sharp increase in petrol costs.
The 35-year-old dictatorship responded to the “Saffron Revolution” with savage crackdowns that resulted in the deaths of at least 31 individuals and the defrocked and detention of hundreds of monks.