Monks’ Protest Is Challenging Burmese Junta

September 24, 2007


Source: The New York Times

The largest street protests in two decades against Myanmar’s military rulers gained momentum Sunday as thousands of onlookers cheered huge columns of Buddhist monks and shouted support for the detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Winding for a sixth day through rainy streets, the protest swelled to 10,000 monks in the main city of Yangon, formerly Rangoon, according to witnesses and other accounts relayed from the closed country, including some clandestinely shot videos.

It came one day after a group of several hundred monks paid respects to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi at the gate of her home, the first time she has been seen in public in more than four years.

The link between the clergy and the leader of the country’s pro-democracy movement, the beginnings of large-scale public participation in the marches and a call by some monks for a wider protest raised the stakes for the government.

So far, it has mostly allowed the monks free rein in the streets, apparently fearing a public backlash if it cracks down on them in this Buddhist nation.