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Oct 30, 2007 (DVB), Burmese monks living in exile around the world have formed an organisation to raise international awareness of Burma's situation and lobby international governments.
The International Burmese Monks Organisation was formed in Los Angeles, California, on 28 October at a gathering of 49 monks from North America, Asia and Europe.
The director of the new group is U Kaweida, a monk lecturer from Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay who was detained by the Burmese government after the 1988 uprising and now lives in New York.
Another high-profile monk, U Pyinya Wuntha, is the chairperson of the organisation.
The monks had originally planned to meet on Sunday to celebrate U Pyinya Wuntha's 80th birthday and 50 years of his work promoting Buddhism around the world.
But in light of the demonstrations in Burma led by monks and the crackdown on protesting monks and civilians the focus of the gathering was changed.
U Pyinya Wuntha said that the organisation was formed as a response to the harassment, detention and ill-treatment of monks in Burma by the regime.
Many people inside Burma had asked monks to get together to bring this issue to the attention of international governments and Buddhist groups from all over the world.
"We are going to raise awareness about the issues inside Burma with the relevant governments," U Pyinya Wuntha said.
"We will pass this message not only to Buddhist groups, but also to Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths to give help to the monks inside Burma," he said.
Burmese monks in Sri Lanka released a statement yesterday offering their enthusiastic cooperation to the new group and expressing their belief that it will be able to help find a solution to the political and social issues inside Burma.
They were joined in their support by monks in Rangoon, Mandalay, Myin Chan, and Pakokku.
Four Burmese artists living in exile also expressed their support for the newly formed organisation.
The four were Kyemon U Thaung, a Bangkok-based journalist and head of the New Era journal, poet Maung Swan Ye, US-based director, writer and painter Win Pe and Mar Mar Aye, a singer and former head of the state Music Association, also now based in the US.
"We vow to follow the monk's orders and accept whatever duties are given to us by the monks," the artists' group said.
Reporting by DVB