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Buddhist monk demonstrations grow larger in Myanmar
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19:57, September 24, 2007

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Buddhist monk demonstrations in Myanmar's biggest city of Yangon grew larger with over 10,000 monks staging protest march Monday afternoon.

Setting out in batches from the world's famous Shwedagon Pagoda, the monks, joined by larger crowds of young civilians, marched peacefully through the city.

It was the biggest march by monks since Sept. 18 in Yangon.

Chanting prayers for peace, the demonstrators held placards demanding mainly for the settlement of people's living and national reconciliation among others.

The onlookers, flooded in the areas around the downtown Sule Pagoda where the monk demonstrators marched through, were higher in number.

So far, the authorities are keeping restraint and have not been seen intervening in the event but remain highly alert.

Monday's monk demonstrators dismissed themselves peacefully in the evening.

Since Sept. 18, hundreds of Buddhist monks have taken to the streets in Yangon, chanting prayers and holy scripture in protest against the authorities for its failed compliance with the monks' four demands mainly for an apology to them over the Pakokku incident. The four demands also include bringing down of commodity prices, release of political prisoners and sponsoring of a dialogue to settle the internal crisis.

Those peaceful demonstrations mostly in drizzling rain over the past week were joined by large crowds of onlookers.

The widespread Buddhist monks demonstrations in Yangon and other parts of the country were triggered by an incident in Magway division's Pakokku on Sept. 5 and 6, in which some monks were allegedly insulted during a demonstration in protest against recent massive fuel price hike. The demonstrators were broken up by firing into the air some warning shots.

That incident resulted in the torching of four local- authorities-owned cars and smashing of two houses of departmental officials by protesters.

On Sept. 18, hundreds of Buddhist monks also staged protest walks in Sittway in western Rakhine state which then turned violent and was dispersed by the authorities with the use of tear- gas and warning shots firing into the air. The authorities said that a departmental official and nine policemen were injured in the incident.

Similar protest walks by monks over the past week were also reported in such areas as Mandalay, Bago, Yenangyaung, Chauk, Kyaukpadaung, Sittway, Aunglan, Labutta. Saturday's demonstration by the monks in Mandalay involved some thousands, other reports said.

Triggered by the fuel price increase in August 15, a series of small-scale demonstrations had been held in Yangon since Aug. 17 including those staged by "88 Generation Students Group", led by Min Ko Naing, on Aug. 19 who along with 14 others were detained by the authorities on Aug. 21. They were charged with undermining stability and security of the state.

Myanmar official media charged external and internal anti- government groups as well as the National League for Democracy ( NLD) with stirring up mass demonstrations to cause unrest and destabilize the nation.

Source: Xinhua

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