Myanmar's Monks Under Close Watch

September 24, 2009

Author: Joel Chong

Source: The Buddhist Channel/Asia Times,8558,0,0,1,0

"I'm being watched all the time. I am considered an organizer. Between noon and 2 pm, I am allowed to go out of the monastery. But then I'm followed," Buddhist monk U Manita said, referring to stepped up government repression of the Buddhist clergy in Myanmar. "We don't want this junta. And that's what everyone at my monastery thinks as well."

"Traditionally, we monks are not supposed to be politically active. The military has ruled our country for more than 40 years, and they don't care about the welfare of the people; they care only for themselves and their relatives, and how to remain in power forever. That was why the people rose up against them", said U Pannacara, a 27-year-old monk, referring to street protests in 2007.

These are just two of the many monks' voices heard in "The Resistance of the Monks: Buddhism and Protests in Burma", a new report issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch this week to coincide with the second anniversary of the monk-led "Saffron" revolution in Myanmar.

Two years ago this month, crimson robes flooded the streets of Yangon and Mandalay as thousands of Buddhist monks marched defiantly against Myanmar's military junta. In certain instances, bystanders formed human shields to protect the venerated monks from security force attacks.