06 September 2007

Myanmar monks release govt. officials

Buddhist monks in Pakokku, Myanmar have released the twenty government officials whom they had held for five to six hours.

The dispute started on 5 September, when about 400 people took part in a monk-led demonstration in Pakokku to protest against the rise of natural gas prices in Myanmar. Security personnel fired into the air to disperse the demonstrators, injuring three monks in the process.

Today, 20 government officials arrived at a monastery in Pakokku to apologise for the incident. However, instead of accepting their apology, a group of monks set fire to the officials' cars, and detained them for several hours, releasing them after the intervention if an abbot.

Hundreds of the monks' lay supporters gathered outside the monastery to cheer them on while the officials were being held (BBC).

So it seems that the Buddhist establishment is the only social force that can get away with protests in today's Myanmar. I wonder if this temporary capture of the 20 officials will lead to sustained opposition on the part of the monks, akin to Pope John Paul II's campaign against Communism in Poland.

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