The Buddhist Peace Fellowship - Tampa Bay Message Board › BPF Statement in Support of Burmese Monks
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Buddhist Peace Fellowship
BPF Statement in Support of Buddhist Monks in Burma
For the last week, thousands of Burmese monks have marched against the repressive Burmese military regime in cities across that nation. This is the largest public demonstration against the junta in nearly 20 years. As the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks march, chant, and overturn their almsbowls (patam nikkujjana kamma), refusing to accept donations from members of the military regime, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship offers our full support and solidarity.
Burma has lived under direct social and political repression for nearly 20 years, since the democracy uprisings of 1988. The army's answer to the people's yearning for freedom in 1988 was the killing of thousands of demonstrators. This repression has in no way abated over the years, bringing with it ethnic cleansing of minority groups, corruption, forced labor, and widespread poverty.
On Tuesday, September 18, 2007, monks demonstrated in cities across Burma. In Sittwe, west of Rangoon, they faced tear gas and gunfire before dispersing. According to reports from exile groups in Thailand, some monks were beaten and arrested. On Wednesday, September 19, more than a 1000 monks in Rangoon marched and briefly occupied the Sule Pagoda in the center of the city, after being barred from the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
Day by day, we closely follow this news from Burma. These non-violent demonstrations by Buddhist monks are expressions of compassion at a time when the already impoverished nation is staggering under August's government mandated price hikes. Burma's monks have historically used techniques on non-violence against oppression. They initiated civil disobedience against British colonialists. They were visible and central in the movement of 1988. In 1990, the sangha declared patam nikkujjana kamma and the government crackdown saw more than 130 monasteries raided, and at least 300 monks forcibly disrobed, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. As truly engaged Buddhists, Burma's monks have earned the trust and respect of their nation. Today, they are leading the way to democracy and human rights.
Win Min, a Thai-based Burmese analyst, said the generals were cautious about stirring a public backlash if they acted against the clergy. "It's a dilemma for the junta. If they don't crack down on protests by monks, more people will join protests. But if they do, it could trigger massive public outrage against the government," he said.
We call on all our friends in the international Buddhist community support Burma's monks as they take a stand for liberation and the end of military rule in this suffering land. We urge Burma's leaders to meet the monks, and all the millions yearning for freedom with open eyes and ears, and with all weapons set aside. Then Burma will again find its rightful place as a beacon of freedom and Dhamma in the world.
Earthlyn Manuel, executive director
Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke, associate director
on behalf of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship community
More information on Burmese Monks [http://www.bpf.org/ht...]
Buddhist Peace Fellowship's website [http://www.bpf.org/ht...]
This evening the BBC aired smuggled footage of the monastic protest. It
was an impressive sight. The BBC commentator went on to speculate about
the possibility of an "Orange Revolution" in Burma. These are some very
It is important to remember at this time that a small number of current
and former BPFTB members have likewise been in the streets throughout
Tampa Bay area since before the ONSET of the Iraq war. They are all an
equally courageous and commendable cadre of Peaceworkers and social
More Info from Region: The Irrawaddy
Below is article from BBC
Concern as Burma rallies continue
Buddhist monks in Burma have been taking part in a fourth straight day
of anti-government protests, as UN diplomats voiced concern at the unrest.
Some 400 monks chanted prayers and sermons at pagodas in and around the
old capital Rangoon before dispersing.
Several hundred have taken part in protests this week over recent
government attempts to silence them.
UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has called for urgent efforts to
address the situation.
Developments in Burma had "raised serious concerns in the international
community and once again underscore the urgency to step up our efforts
to find solutions to the challenges facing the country", Mr Gambari told
the Security Council in a closed briefing, the UN said.
US and British officials also spoke on the issue after the briefing.
US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the situation was a threat to
regional stability and urged Burmese leaders to allow Mr Gambari into
the country as soon as possible.
"We certainly are appalled by the steps the regime has taken to silence
peaceful protest and to clamp down on dissent," British ambassador John
Sawyers was quoted as saying.
Fuel price hikes
On Friday, more than 200 monks marched through Rangoon to the Shwedagon
Pagoda, Burma's most revered temple and focal point of their recent
Supporters lined the streets as the monks converged on the pagoda,
chanting prayers and sermons.
Another 200 monks were said to have gathered at two other pagodas on the
outskirts of Rangoon.
The numbers appeared to be smaller than at protests earlier in the week,
which saw several hundred monks take part in marches around the country.
They have also been withholding religious duties from anyone connected
to the military.
The monks want a government apology for the violent break-up of a
demonstration in the town of Pakokku on 5 September.
Protests have been ongoing in Burma since the government decided to
double the price of fuel in mid-August.
Initial protests were led by activists, dozens of whom have now been
The movement has turned into the largest public show of opposition to
the Burmese authorities since the uprising of 1988.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/09/21 09:23:04 GMT
< http://news.bbc.co.uk... >
© BBC MMVII
Edited by Tom Lacey on Sep 24, 2007 2:33 PM