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Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Buddhist monks press peaceful protests

September 20, 2007

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— Stepping up their challenge to the military government, Buddhist monks staged a second straight day of protests Wednesday, briefly occupying a landmark pagoda in Myanmar's largest city during one of several marches around the country.

In the western city of Sittwe, some 5,000 monks reportedly turned out for an anti-government demonstration despite having a protest a day earlier cut short by authorities shooting tear gas and warning shots.

The saffron-robed monks have become the spearhead of a movement launched on Aug. 19, when a few hundred ordinary citizens marched to protest a government increase in fuel prices.

The protests reflect long pent-up opposition to the repressive military regime, and have become the most sustained challenge to the junta in at least a decade.

Tuesday marked the 19th anniversary of the 1988 crackdown in which the current junta took over after violently crushing vast pro-democracy demonstrations. The junta held a general election in 1990, but refused to honor the results when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party won. Suu Kyi has been detained under house arrest for more than 11 of the past 18 years.

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