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Junta monitors Buddhist monasteries

Mizzima, April 27, 2008

Rangoon, Burma -- Burmese military junta authorities in Rangoon have kept monks under surveillance. The movements of Buddhist monks are being monitored and certain restrictions have been imposed on their going out late at night, travelling, and receiving guests in the monasteries, sources in Rangoon said.

<< Shwedagon, site of the latest monks' protests

The junta's order to strictly monitor monks and their monasteries came even before the news spread that monks were planning to gather at the famous Shwedagon pagoda on Saturday.

A police officer in Rangoon, who requested anonymity, told Mizzima that they have been ordered to interrogate any monks they suspect on buses and on the streets, notwithstanding the traditional respect that Burmese people show towards monks.

Eyewitnesses said, security has been tightened with more troops positioned at the front gate of Shwedagon pagoda, a famous shrine used by protesting monks in September as a gathering point.

On Saturday, a clutch of people led by monks tried to gather to demonstrate against the junta in front of the Shwedagon Pagoda this afternoon.

Authorities have prohibited Buddhist monks from entering the historic pagoda precincts. Monks travelling by buses were interrogated on their way to downtown Rangoon from the suburbs and other neighbouring cities.

The surprise attempt to assemble at around 1 p.m was the first since the Saffron Revolution last year failed. A majority of the monks who planned to take part in the demonstration today were stopped by the police.

Meanwhile, overseas Burmese protested in front of respective Burmese embassies lobbying voters to vote 'No' on the polling to approve the draft constitution in the referndum today.

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