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Myanmar monks pray for democracy

AP, April 18, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Monks who helped lead last year's protests against Myanmar's junta urged the country to mark the traditional New Year on Thursday with prayers for democracy.

The All Burma Monks Alliance, a coalition of activist monks in Myanmar, denounced the country's military leaders for having "mistreated and abused the religion and Buddhist monks" during its crackdown on peaceful protests.

In a statement, the alliance called on the devoutly Buddhist country to pray "for the success of the democratic movement and to pray that those who committed sins against the religion ... face retribution."

The alliance was instrumental in organizing last September's pro-democracy protests. Most of its leaders were arrested or are in hiding. The statement with the group's seal was sent by e-mail from the same address it has used in the past.

Calls for democratic reforms in Myanmar intensified after the junta quashed the protests. The United Nations estimates at least 31 people were killed and thousands more detained during the crackdown.

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