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Indian Buddhist monks protest against Myanmar junta

by Bappa Majumdar, Reuters, Nov 26, 2007

PATNA, India -- Hundreds of Buddhist monks, nuns and students marched against Myanmar's military regime in eastern India on Monday, urging Buddhists around the world to unite against the junta, officials said on Monday.

At least 1,000 monks and nuns, draped in yellow robes, sang religious hymns and walked through the Buddhist holy town of Bodh Gaya in Bihar state, witnesses said.

Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in southern Bihar in the 6th century BC.

"The military rulers are killing Buddhists, torturing our community and destroying Buddhist statues and religious emblems," Kyaw Than of the All Burma Students League said by phone from the town.

A monk-led protest was crushed by Myanmar's ruling junta in September, and at least 10 people, possibly more, were killed.

The military regime is facing unprecedented pressure to move away from decades of army rule that has crippled a once-promising economy.

India is home to hundreds of Myanmar nationals, many of them pro-democracy activists, who have staged sporadic protests since September in Delhi, Bodh Gaya and some other cities.

New Delhi, which has close links to the junta, says the generals should pursue national reconciliation and return to democracy but opposes tough measures like sanctions saying the country should not be isolated.

The monks in Gaya will hold marches for three days and sit indefinitely outside the famous Bodh Gaya temple, Than said.

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