A public literature talk organised by the National League for Democracy (NLD) was cancelled after harassment by nationalist monks.
The Patriotic Burmese Monks Union (PBMU) pressured the planners to call off the 12 February event, scheduled to mark Burma’s Union Day in Rangoon’s North Okkalapa Township.
Organiser Myo Htut called it off after around 30 monks arrived, angered by two of the event’s four keynote speakers — NLD’s High Court Lawyer Ko Ni and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society’s Mya Aye — both Muslim.
According to Myo Htut, PBMU member Thuseikta appealed to North Okkalapa Township Administration on 10 February objecting to the appointment of Ko Ni and Mya Aye as speakers, claiming that it would be inappropriate for Muslims to make public speeches on Union Day.
Thuseikta then allegedly threatened organisers over the telephone. The NLD attempted to negotiate with the PBMU but was unsuccessful.
“We tried to make a point that it was a literature talk not a religious event,” said Myo Htut.
Mya Aye said the monks might have misunderstood the nature of the event.
“They objected because of our religion, but would not even consider what we had to say — that there is nothing about race or religion in what we had done and what we were trying to achieve,” he said.
The NLD plans to hold a press event on 14 February to settle misunderstandings about the incident.