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A group of monks staging a rare protest in Burma’s second city have vowed to continue their demonstration despite being asked to move locations and reports that onlookers have been harassed.
The five yesterday unfurled banners on the balcony of a religious building in Mandalay demanding the release of political prisoners amid what appears to be stalling by the government on a rumoured amnesty.
A bystander told DVB yesterday evening that the group had been asked by the abbot of the Maha Myatmuni pagoda compound to relocate. Around 1,000 people then followed them to the new location at Masoyein monastery, which is believed to be safer from a police crackdown.
Monk U Marga said they group was calling for tripartite dialogue between President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic representatives.
“We wish the president to embark on an immediate path to an all-inclusive, tripartite dialogue with all political and ethnic representatives, with precise time-frames and dates,” he said.
According to AFP, the group has vowed to continue their protest until Friday.
The group’s leader, Ashin Sopaka, told the agency that they feared a crackdown. “I think things are going well,” he said, adding however that “we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”
It is thought to be the first demonstration by Burma’s revered monastic community since the protest of September 2007, which made international headlines after the army launched a bloody crackdown, killing around 100.