Monks demand inquiry into deaths and disappearances

Nov 27, 2007 (DVB), The All-Burmese Monks Alliance has called for an investigation into the fate of monks who are unaccounted for since the September protests, in a statement released yesterday.

The monk group criticises the National Head Monks Association for failing to confront the ruling State Peace and Development Council over the deaths and disappearances of monks in connection with the protests.

"The NHMA has full responsibility to protect fellow monks from such treatment," the statement said.

"NHMA members, who have been voted to their positions by monks, have now failed to take responsibility in the crisis monks are facing; instead they have remained silent over the SPDC’s activities."

The statement condemned the violent response of the Burmese government to the peaceful protests in September.

The ABMA claims that the SPDC had raided over 60 monasteries and brutally beaten monks, leading to several deaths, but that the National Head Monks Association had accepted the SPDC's denials of these events.

The statement calls on the NHMA to pressure the SPDC for the immediate release of all detained monks and political prisoners, including democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and to prevent further arrests of monks and civilians.

The ABMA also stressed the importance of a time-bound dialogue involving all parties and mediated by the United Nations.

The ABMA was one of the key groups involved in instigating the public protests in September, and previous statements have said the group will continue to work for political change.

The group's leader, U Gambira, was arrested on 4 November after several weeks on the run, and a number of other ABMA leaders remain in hiding.

Reporting by DVB

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