Brothers in alms

More than 100 Buddhist monks joined local Rangoon residents to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the 2007 Saffron Revolution on Wednesday.

Six years ago the military cracked down on anti-government protestors, many of whom were monks, killing dozens and arresting thousands.

At Sardu monastery in Rangoon, the monks called for the Burmese government to apologise for the violent suppression.

“For the future of the country, so that we can build our country peacefully, we want the government to apologize to us,” said former political prisoner and Buddhist monk, Sandar Siri.

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Since the crackdown, many monks have refused donations of alms from the military and stopped providing religious services for them.

The monks at Sardyu monastery said they would not end the alms boycott until they receive an official apology.

Since President Thein Sein‘s nominally civilian government took over in 2011, political, economic and social reforms have swept the country.

Many activists say the Saffron Revolution helped bring about those changes.

“Because of the Saffron Revolution, our country was able to reform quickly. Although we’re not satisfied with the present situation, we have freedom of speech and so we can set up a meeting like this today. This is because of the 2007 Saffron movement,” said 88 Student Generation leader Min Ko Naing.

Peaceful anti-government protesters led by Buddhist monks launched demonstrations on 18 September 2007 in response to a 500% overnight increase in fuel prices. The demonstrations escalated in the following days and weeks until hundreds of thousands of protesters had taken to the streets all over the country.

The anniversary marks only the second year that the public can officially commemorate the Saffron Revolution following government reforms.

 

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