The Office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi released a statement yesterday thanking Burmese citizens who did not participate in sit-in protests staged by nationalist monks and hardline Buddhists aimed at overthrowing the government.
Titled “A thank you letter to citizens”, the statement read: “So-called nationalist monks and laypersons staged sit-in protests in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi from 2-5 August in an attempt to disrupt tranquility and rule of law in our country. Our citizens did not support or get involved in these actions, and the relevant regional and state governments tackled the protests peacefully and in accordance with the law. We would hereby like to thank citizens for standing responsibly alongside the state’s long-term interests.”
On Saturday morning, authorities and security forces broke up the protest camp in Mandalay, while those in Rangoon and Taunggyi were vacated without incident that same day and later disassembled.
The move against the protest sites came after Burma’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture on Thursday authorised each local chapter of the Sangha Maha Nayaka to deal with the protestors.
The Sangha Maha Nayaka is the highest order of Buddhist clergy in the country.
The following day, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe backed up the Ministry for Religious Affairs, saying that his and other government bodies would be prepared to take legal action against the nationalist demonstrators.
“If the Ministry of Religious Affairs files a lawsuit against these protestors, each respective government body will respond with step-by-step law enforcement procedures as prescribed by law,” he said.
On Saturday morning, the protest site in Mandalay, which was situated at the historical Maha Muni temple in the city centre, was cleared by authorities. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported yesterday that in the days leading up to the clearance, 11 monks and two women were detained by police. Six of the monks were subsequently defrocked by the Sangha Maha Nayaka, the report said.