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Monks harassed by authorities

July 22, 2009 (DVB), Monks living in a Rangoon monastery were harassed by authorities last week after accepting food donations from opposition party members given to mark Martyrs' Day in Burma.

Around 20 officials from Thingangyun township authority in Rangoon arrived at the monastery in Laydauntkan ward where monks had received meals from National League for Democracy (NLD) members, a traditional way to celebrate Martyrs' Day each year on 19 June.

According to NLD member Naw Ohn Hla, the officials "said intimidating words" to the monks and told them to report future donations to township authorities.

"They issued warnings and interrogated them," she said. "They asked the monks how the offerings were made, how they were blessed with water, what kind of clothes were worn."

Authorities threatened to seal off the monastery as had been famously done to Maggin monastery during the September 2007 monk-led uprising.

Monastery abbot, U Kumara, reportedly replied that his monastery had no "complicated matters" like Maggin, but was told by authorities that he had been "tainted with a black spot".

Ohn Hla was among the 21 NLD members arrested and briefly detained whilst returning from Martyrs' Mausoleum on Sunday.

"They told us not to wear clothes with [the pictures of] General Aung San," she said. "When we headed towards the museum, they arrested us on the way."

A number of those detained were "beaten up severely" and thrown into a van, she said.

Reporting by Naw Noreen


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