Military presence at monk food offering

Dec 3, 2007 (DVB), Authorities in Moegok township, Mandalay division, tightened security around a local monastery and pagoda out of concern that a gathering of monks for a food offering could turn into another protest.

Around 400 monks attended the breakfast offering at Thati Phatan monastery on 30 November, according to a local resident.

Local authorities were worried about the large number of monks assembling at Thati Phatan and feared they would move on to Chanthar Gyi pagoda, a well-known pagoda near the monastery.

The local resident said the authorities had called in security forces because they did not want the gathering to lead to renewed demonstrations.

"They were worried that the monks would go out into the town and protest again," he said.

"So they sent in military trucks and soldiers in body armour to the areas surrounding the monastery and set up roadblocks on the way to the monastery and were checking everyone."

Local officials had also visited the monastery several times on 29 November to try to pressure the head monk, 75-year-old U Thu Nanda, not to hold the offering.

Thati Phatan monastery is located on the east side of Moegok township, and has about 18 monks and novices.

Reporting by Nam Kham Kaew

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