Mar 25, 2008 (DVB), The number of Burmese monks entering the government-run Pahtamapyan exam this year is significantly lower than in previous years, monks said.
The All-Burmese Monks Alliance released a statement on 18 March urging Burmese monks to boycott the exams in protest over the regime's brutal treatement of monks during its crackdown on public demonstrations last year.
Monks in Pakokku, Magwe division, said almost no monks from the township’s four major lecturing monasteries participated in this year's exam, which was held on Monday.
A monk from Bawde Mandi monastery, Pakokku, said none of the monks there had taken the exam, and a monk from the township's East monastery said that the monks had not entered the exam despite incentives from the government.
"The government even arranged a meal and sent transportation this year for monks entering the exam. But still, no one went with them," the East monastery monk said.
Monks at Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay also said that no monks from the monastery sat the examination this year.
In Myin Chan, Mandalay, about 500 monks entered the exam.
In Bago, a local monk said only a few monks had taken the exam as most of the monks from monasteries in the town had gone back to their villages after the September protests.
The situation was similar in Kyaukpadaung, Mandalay, according to a monk from the town.
"There are only about 400 monks in the town as most have gone home since the crackdown on monks by the government. Not too many are sitting the exams," the Kyaukpadaung monk said.
A monk from Veithudayon monastery in Kalay township, Sagaing division, said the monks were continuing their boycott against the regime.
"Monks are still practicing their boycott against the government so they didn’t even submit their exam application forms," he said.
A monk from Zawtika monastery in Monywa, also in Sagaing division, said that the number of entrants was lower than in previous years.
"Only about 80 monks in the whole town entered the exams," he said.
U Pyinya Zawta, a spokesperson for the ABMA, said the low attendance at the government-run exams reflected the monks' dissatisfaction with the regime.
"Monks are showing their feelings towards the junta by not entering the government exams," U Pyinya Zawta said.
"This also shows their boycott against the government is still going on."
Reporting by Aye Nai