Monk activist flees to Thai-Burma border

Oct 23, 2008 (DVB), A monk who played a leading role in last year's Saffron Revolution in Burma has fled the country for Thailand due to fear of arrest for his political activities.

U Eitthariya, a member of the All Burmese Monks Alliance from Mandalay, reached Thailand on 21 October, he told DVB.

"I came out of Burma because it was not safe for me. I was involved with the young people of Generation Wave and other political groups," U Eitthariya said."We distributed leaflets and gave training and when the eight people in Nyein Chan’s group were arrested, the situation became worse for me," he said.

"They found out where I was and shadowed all the places I frequented. I came here because I had nowhere to hide."

U Eitthariya said the majority of monks in Burma were continuing with their boycott of the regime.

"[The boycott] will only be withdrawn with the consent of all monks in Burma," he said."This is a very serious matter as it was taught by the Buddha himself and the monks who try to undermine this are also traitors to the monkshood," he went on."Only when the SPDC apologises to the monks and all the monks agree will we be able to overturn this."

But U Eitthariya said the government had so far not only refused to apologise, but had stepped up its harassment of monks.

"They are asking their thugs to watch the monks," he explained.

"These people send anonymous letters to monks to intimidate them and are making lists of monks to make the monks feel uncomfortable."

U Eitthariya said spies had been placed in the monasteries and monks had been told not to harbour any politically active monks.

"They send letters to monks and tell them to report monks who are politically active," he said.

"If they refuse, they hint that even the abbots will be imprisoned when monasteries are raided."

The Burmese authorities have kept a close watch on monasteries since the monk-led demonstrations in September last year.

Monasteries were targeted for raids in the aftermath of the protests and many monks were arrested.

A directive was issued to monks in Magwe last month in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of the protests warning them to avoid political activities.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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