200 monks protest in Pakokku

Oct 31, 2007 (DVB), Around 200 monks from several monasteries in Pakokku staged a walking protest at 8.30 this morning, according to a monk who participated in the march.

The monk said that the protest was a continuation of last month's demonstrations as he said the monks' demands have still not been met.

"Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners," the monk explained.

The monks came from monasteries around Pakokku, including the West and Central monasteries, and chanted metta as they marched three in a row, with monks in the first row holding Sasana flags.

They started walking along Bogyoke road towards Thida road, then turned into Pauk road before ending the march at Shwe Ku pagoda.

The monk said the group was not afraid of the response of the authorities.

"We are not afraid of getting arrested or being tortured. We are doing this for Sasana," he said.

The protest began about one hour after a pro-government rally in the same town ended, and authorities did not intervene to stop the monks' march.

The monks reportedly notified the authorities in advance, telling them that if a pro-government demonstration was taking place then the monks should also be allowed to hold their protest.

The monk said there would be more and larger demonstrations in the future.

"We did not have much time to organise the protest as we did not actually plan for it, so there weren’t a lot of monks. But there will be bigger and more organized protests soon," he said.

The monk said that civilian bystanders supported the protest but were afraid to express this openly.

"We would like to urge people not to be afraid since we are doing this for good future of our country," he said.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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