More than 1,000 Buddhist monks in Mandalay have vowed to continue demonstrating every day until the Burmese government meets their demands, including issuing an apology for the violent crackdown on monks and activists at the Monywa copper mine site on November 29.
Abbot Thawbita of the All Burma Monks’ Movement Leading Committee told Mizzima that they would stage protests every day until the President and the government apologizes to the Buddhist monks who were injured during the violence launched by riot police at the protest site in Sagaing Division.
“They assaulted Buddhist monks with fire bombs,” he said. “If they fail to apologize, this will be one of the most repulsive cases in our country’s history.
“We will continue marching until our demands have been met. We told all the other Buddhist monks that we will gather at that same place every day.”
On Wednesday at noon, hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered at Oo Pwar Pagoda in Mandalay and marched through the streets for about three hours, said Abbot Thawbita.
“From the pagoda we marched west toward 84th Street. Then we headed down 42nd Street to the east gateway of Phayargyi Pagoda. Then we returned to Oo Pwar Pagoda where the demonstration ended peacefully,” he explained.
Along with the Buddhist monks, about 300 laypeople took part, including members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions and some local activists.
There were no reports of disturbances during the protest. However, Mandalay Region’s Religious Affairs Minister Than Soe Myint summoned several senior monks to his office and met with them, said the abbot.
“U Than Soe Myint said that the government has apologized to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee,” said Abbot Thawbita. “And he said that the protesters in Rangoon have now been released. He asked the monks to cease protesting, and said that they run the danger of being arrested if they continue.
“However, if our demands are not satisfied, we will continue doing what we have to do,” said the abbot.
“As usual, they said that they would pass on our demands to their superiors,” he continued. “We told them that the reason we were staging the protests was because of the negligent responses by the authorities.”
He added that some of the monks at the protest camps in Monywa were seriously injured, and that their injuries were not ordinary burns.
“We believe that if we accept this violence now, we will ultimately have to face more serious suppression,” said Abbot Thawbita. “We want to urge all citizens to unite with us by participating in the protests alongside us.”
He said the monks were also demanding that the authorities take effective legal action against those who committed the violent acts in Monywa, and to unconditionally release any remaining copper mine protestors immediately.