Monk group calls for exam boycott

Nov 23, 2007 (DVB), The Representative Monks Association has called on student monks not to participate in their annual examinations, in a statement issued yesterday.

The examinations are organised by the state, and would usually be taken by monks studying at lecturing monasteries.

The RPA represents leaders of the All-Burmese Monks Alliance who are currently in hiding.

The statement calls on monks, students and others not to forget about the monk-led demonstrations and government crackdown in September, and urges monks and civilians to continue with the movement and not give up.

The group also says it appreciates the work of United Nations special representatives Ibrahim Gambari and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, and of detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and world leaders.

The statement was signed by the RPA director, who is among those monks in hiding from the authorities.

There has been a positive response to the statement from monks.

U Khemar Nanda, temporary spokesperson for the All-Burmese Monks Alliance, supported the boycott.

"We absolutely encourage the boycott plan; in fact, we have been organizing the same campaign in collaboration with the young monks from [Mandalay’s] old and new Masoyein monasteries," he said.

"We monks are continuing our boycott against the government on all grounds including economic areas and in the education systems. We, the ABMA, fully support this boycott campaign."

A monk from Masoeyein [New] monastery in Mandalay said that the boycott had already taken effect.

"Before, we had about 3,000 student monks here. But now there are only about 500 left as the rest decided not to participate in the exams and have gone home," he said.

A senior monk from lecturing monastery No 1 in Pakokku, Magwe, also supported the planned action.

"There are four lecturing monasteries in this town including ours. We supported the other three monasteries' ideas for previous protests," said the senior monk.

"We monks live in unity and this has no political intentions. We will follow the boycott if the other monasteries agree with it."

A senior monk from lecturing-monastery No 2 in Pakokku shared this view.

"We have four lecturing-monasteries here and we will go along with the majority," he said.

In Sittwe, Arakan, a senior monk from a lecturing monastery agreed that monks there should not participate.

"Most of the monks here have already decided not to go for the exams as they were disgusted by the government's actions in September. I personally think we should not participate in the exams either," he said.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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