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Sep 27, 2008 (DVB), A monk who took part in a demonstration in Sittwe today to mark the one-year anniversary of the monk-led protests which were crushed by the military regime told DVB the Saffron Revolution was not yet over.
The monk told DVB in an interview today that the authorities would not be able to break the monks' unity through intimidation.
"At 10 o'clock exactly, as planned, 150 monks lined up. The other monks also joined. [The authorities] managed to block the monks who didn't make it [on time]. They also tried to stop the first 150 monks. Initially, they did it roughly. When that failed, they tried to coax us: 'My lords, your retreat is almost over. Lent is nearly over. Please do not do that,' they threatened. But the monks said nothing. We carried out the anniversary memorial in the best way we could, despite the tight security, before we collected victuals."
DVB: Did you expect the authorities to respond to your will do something to you for doing this?
"Yes, of course we did. We knew that they could harm us at any time , they could arrest us, or shoot us. On the anniversary of the historically indelible Saffron Revolution which was violently suppressed, with our individual feelings, we did it out of determination to show solidarity with our brother monks. It would be wrong for the authorities to think that they could break our unity by force."
DVB: How did the local people find out about your activities?
"When we were inside the town, we walked behind one another without speaking, with dignity befitting monks, in the rain and the winds. Followers gathered in massive numbers on both side of the road and paid obeisance. They also remembered that monks had been marching and praying for them this time last year. We prayed in silence for the monks and people who fell and walked along the main road and turned into U Ottama road. We finished where U Ottama and Myinbakyee roads meet."
DVB: Were there any arrests?
"One monk was taken away as he was found on the way. Chairman Kyantbo and security staff carried out interrogations at Dhamma Thukha monastery. Later, I heard that he had been released. He is called U Thawpanat, from Arthawkanyin monastery."
DVB: What comments do you have on the first anniversary of the Saffron Revolution?
"The Saffron Revolution is not over yet. It is not possible for us to give up and just accept the suffering of the public , both monks and people , and this evil government. I want to notify the authorities that we will have to take decisive action on behalf of the truth. I want to say to other monks from here that we are winning because we have the public and the truth behind us."
Interview by Yee May Aung