The clash of ideologies

Burma shot to the world’s attention in September 2007 when thousands of monks took to the streets in protest against military rule. Following a bloody crackdown by the Burmese army, footage emerged from the country of monks lying dead on the pavements of Rangoon; a shocking site given the reverance which with Buddhists monks across the world hold.

But another byproduct of the uprising was the politicisation of monks in Burma: the normally secular community rose up to challenge ongoing abuses against the people, and has repeatedly boycotted religious service for the military generals. But, argues influential exiled monk, Ashin Sopaka, Buddhist doctrine explicitly calls for the alleviation of suffering, even if it invovles the transformation to political activist.

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