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Junta warns Buddhist monks online

by Arkar Moe, The Irrawaddy, August 26, 2009

Rangoon, Burma -- A military government Web site, “kyaymon” [meaning “the mirror”], which operates as an online daily newspaper in Burmese, on Wednesday criticized two well-known Buddhist monks’ organizations and warned that the Burmese military authorities will take action against them.

The Burmese-language kyaymon Web site claimed that the International Burmese Monks’ Organization [commonly known as “Sasana Moli”] and the Sangha League (Myanmar) are trying to launch another monks’ boycott in Burma similar to the 2007 Saffron Revolution when Buddhist monks were instrumental in leading anti-government protests.

The Web site claimed that U Nayaka and U Candobhasacara from Sasana Moli, and U Jotika, U Paramikhanti and Shwe Zin Tun from Sangha League (Myanmar) are playing leading roles in the movement and that the Burmese public would not approve of it.

It went on to say that the Burmese government would not tolerate this type of movement and would take “severe action” against those involved in it. The Web site urged the public “not to become the monks’ victims.”

The warning comes the day after The Irrawaddy reported that several exiled monk leaders had said that Buddhist monks across the country were preparing to stage a third boycott of military personnel and their families.

A monk from Sangha League (Myanmar) told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday: “It is clear that  the Burmese military junta is afraid of the movements of Buddhist monks. It also raises the possibility of the authorities planting fake monks in monasteries and committing violations against our religion.

"Several saffron robe dealers near the Shwedagon Pagoda told our monks that the military authorities had come and bought about 500 saffron robes from them on September 21, 2007. They used those robes as disguises to infiltrate the protests,” he added.

The US-based International Burmese Monks’ Organization was founded in October 2007 by two revered monks, the late U Kovida and the Malaysian-born Venerable Pannya Vamsa. It says on its Web site that it aims to “give voice to the brave people and monks who have been silenced,” and is “dedicated to peace and freedom in Burma.”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, one of its leaders, Ashin Sopaka, said, “This [attack] shows that the Burmese dictators will counterattack the media with their own media weapons. They always do wrong and they are constantly breaking the codes of human rights.

"Our monks will surely boycott them if they persist with their religious abuses. All our monks need to boycott this Burmese dictatorship for the sake of our religion and in the interest of peace for all people,” he said.

Burmese monks have boycotted the military regime and their cronies twice in recent history: the first time in 1990 following the suppression of Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, after they had won the last general election by a landslide; and again in 2007, the so-called “Saffron Revolution,” when monk-led demonstrations against price hikes in Rangoon turned into a national uprising.

Ashin Candobhasacara, a secretary of the Sasana Moli, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday: “Our International Burmese Monks’ Organization and the international community have called on the Burmese junta to release all political prisoners, including monks and nuns.

“Buddha told us that monks have to boycott those who violate religious principles. There is no doubt that the Burmese dictators have killed and arrested many monks and nuns, and have raided and destroyed monasteries.

“So, if they do not apologize to the monks for their religious abuses, we must boycott them according to Buddhist doctrine. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for Buddhism and peace for all,” he said.

The International Burmese Monks’ Organization issued an announcement on Monday to mark the second anniversary of the Saffron Movement, saying it will demonstrate against the Burmese junta by reciting the “Metta Sutta” (the Buddha’s words of loving-kindness) in front of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh and in Union Square in New York on September 24 - 26.

According to official data, there are more than 400,000 monks in Burma, and its community, the sangha, is considered one of the strongest and most revered institutions in the country. It has always played an important role in Burma’s social and political affairs, often in opposition to oppressive regimes.



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