Burma: Buddhist monks challenge dictatorship

Twenty Burmese security officials taken captive for several hours by Buddhist monks were released unharmed Sept. 6. The officials had arrived at the monastery in the town of Pakokku to apologize for injuries caused during a protest on the previous day over fuel price rises. Angry monks set fire to their vehicles and refused to let them leave. Hundreds of local residents gathered outside the gats of the monastery to applaud the monks. The officials were freed after a senior abbot intervened. At the Sept. 5 protest, security forces fired shots into the air to disperse 400 people in a rare demonstration by monks in Pakokku. At least three monks were injured.

A series of anti-government protests has been held since the military junta doubled the price of petrol and diesel on Aug. 15. The protests have continued despite the arrests of dozens of Burma’s most prominent activists in recent weeks.

On Sept. 5, US President George W Bush condemned the crackdown by the Burmese authorities. “It’s inexcusable that we’ve got this kind of tyrannical behaviour in Asia,” he said. (BBC, Sept. 6)

Well, hooray for the heroic monks, but the last thing they need is Dubya cheering them on…

See our last post on the struggle in Burma.