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150 monks march in Sittwe

by Yee May Aung, Democratic Voice of Burma, Sept. 27, 2008

Monks' march to mark the one-year anniversary of the Saffron Revolution

Sittwe, Burma -- Around 150 Buddhist monks staged a peaceful march in Sittwe this morning to mark the one-year anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, according to an eyewitness.

The monks continued their walk despite the presence of security forces in the Arakan state capital, the witness said.

"At around 10am, around 150 monks started to walk from Biloo-ma bridge in single file along the main road,” the witness said.

“When they were about to turn into U Ottama road, security forces turned up in large numbers,” he said.

“It was raining hard and the public came out on the street and offered their respect to the monks for staging a peaceful walk.”

When security forces asked the monks what they were doing, they did not reply but continued along onto U Ottama road.

“When they reached the junction of Hmyetlwagyi and U Ottama roads, the monks made a sign for the joyous end [of the walk] and broke up into small groups and dispersed," the witness said.

"Despite the heavy rain, the monks maintained their serene and peaceful attitude during the march,” he said.

The witness said that U Thawpanat, a monk from Arthawkayon monastery in Ywakyeemyak ward near Donetaikkwin, was arrested and taken away shortly after the march.

It is not clear whether U Thawpanat has since been released or remains in custody.

According to the witness, a second group of monks assembled soon after the first group ended their march.

"Soon after the monks left, more monks turned up – they must have been late for some reason,” the witness said.

“There were about 100 monks, I was told. Around 300 monks in all were involved today,” he said.

“According to the monks, they were marching and offering prayers to mark last year's Saffron Revolution."

In another report, sources confirmed that Ven Ashin Sobhana, a student at the Asokayone Temple was taken to the interrogation center at around 4 pm. Later another four monks were also arrested.

The monks were marching in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Saffron Revolution led by the Buddhist monks in 2007. The Saffron Revolution was brutally crushed by the country's military government.

The current situation in Burma's Yangon is tightened security with hundreds of riot police and cars near the Sule Pagoda, a protester's gathering point.

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