Over 200 monks not only protested against the brutal handling of the men in crimson robes in the military ruled country but condemned in no uncertain terms the generals’ sacrilege towards Buddhism which they swear by – for they killed flag bearers of Lord Buddha. Residents in large numbers, in empathy with the demonstrating monks, joined the protest.
The monks outraged by what the junta had done, selected Bodhgaya, as a symbolic place to protest given that Lord Buddha attained Nirvana in this historic town in Bihar.
The monks marched from the Japan Pagoda to the Bodhi temple yesterday where they prayed for the departed monks, felled by bullets of Myanmarese troops, shooting from automatic weapons, beating them on their heads with batons, kicking and dragging them away in waiting military trucks to different prisons in the country.
This show of intolerance by the junta erupted because after the students uprising in 1988 where 3,000 people were killed by troops, the September protests challenged the authority of the Myanmar regime for the first time in 20 years.
The protests begun by students of thee 88 generation over unprecedented hike in fuel prices and consequent increase in costs of
transportation and essential commodities, snowballed when the monks hit the streets to provide leadership, in a country largely dominated by Buddhists and where the men in robes are revered.
The movement thereon was transformed into one for change, ouster of the junta and ushering in of democracy. But, the generals’ who despite swearing by Buddhism, thought nothing of arresting and killing monks to maintain their stranglehold on the impoverished country hemmed in by economic sanctions from the west and the social and economic malaise laced with dissidence within and outside the country.
The marchers also appealed for peace to prevail in the strife torn country, said Kyaw Gyi, Joint-Secretary of the India based All Burma Students League, who was in Bodhgaya for the protest.
The peaceful protesters held aloft posters and banners which read ‘Killer Than Shwe – release all arrested monks’, ‘Release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners’, ‘Reopen all schools’, and ‘Solve the peoples’ desire for lower essential commodity prices,’ the local media reported. The sit-in demonstration and the protest march were also joined by the President of the All India Bikkhu Association.