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Monks Might Resume Demonstrations in Late October, Says Leading Monk

by Wai Moe, The Irrawaddy, October 21, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- A leading monk - one of four being hunted down by the junta - told The Irrawaddy from his hiding place that monk-led demonstrations may resume in Burma in late October, in spite of  at least 100 monks killed during pro-democracy demonstrations and about 1,200 monks arrested.

“Our people are in poverty," said U Obhasa. "How can monks be silent about the real situation in the country?"

“The situation is terrible for monks," he said. "But we still fight on for the Dhamma. We will resume our activities for Dhamma soon, perhaps in late October. Dhamma (justice) will win over Ad-Dhamma (injustice).”

U Obhasa said life is uprooted, and he moves from safe house to safe house, sometimes daily.

"I have not been able to sleep for weeks," he said. "Our future is not certain even for the next few hours."

U Obhasa said many monks are still missing and their whereabouts are unknown.

About 50 nuns were arrested during the junta’s crackdown on the Sangha in Rangoon, which started on September 26. He said he believes reports that some nuns were raped and sexually harassed by soldiers at detention centers.

"The soldiers are very crude,” he said.

Monks and monasteries in Rangoon and other cities remain the military regime's main target, said U Obhasa.

“If soldiers see a monk in a robe on the street, they will follow the monk,” he said.

Recently, the junta has displayed images of high ranking military officers in the state-run media, showing them supporting the Sangha with alms and other gifts, he said, but senior monks across Burma have been forced to accept such donations by the military. A leading Sangha group has instituted a countrywide boycott on accepting alms from members of the military, their families and supporters.

U Obhasa said a report of explosives being found in a monastery in Rangoon was untrue and simply military propaganda designed to confuse the public.

He said eight monks from Ngwe Kyar Yan Monastery in North Okkalapa Township in Rangoon were killed when security forces stormed the monastery overnight on September 26, leaving behind pools of blood on corridors and in rooms. Some reports claimed as many as 100 or more monks were killed, he said.

U Obhasa said he hoped the UN special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, and the international community can pressure the junta to find a middle ground with the pro-democracy movement, and he was disappointed with the positions of China and India on the struggle for democracy.

“They (China and India) only want to take goods from Burma," he said. "But they should help the suffering people of Burma’s freedom.”

Human rights groups say as many as 3,000 people have been detained as a result of the protests throughout the country. Detainees reportedly have been classified into three categories. In the A group are people who played a leading role in demonstrations or who have ties with the 88 Generation Students group or the National League for Democracy; in the B group are people who took part in mass demonstrations; and in the C group are people who supported the protesters.

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