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Burmese monk protest ends in Mandalay

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – After they delivered a one-hour final talk in Old Masoeyein Monastery in Mandalay on Wednesday, five Burmese monks who staged a protest calling for the release of political prisoners have ended the protest.
A protesting monk addresses a crowd from a religious building in Mandalay in central Burma after they locked themselves inside and called for the release of all political prisoners on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Photo:  AFP The protest, which started Tuesday at the Phayagyi Monastery compound, was ended at the request of 10 Buddhist abbots including the chairman of the Mandalay Region Sangha committee, according to residents in Mandalay.

On Tuesday evening, the monks agreed to move from Phayagyi to the Old Masoeyein Monastery where they would deliver a one-hour talk for three days, but on Wednesday morning, at the request of the abbots, they agreed to a final talk and ended the protest.
After the talk, the five monks moved to a monastery in Pyigyitagun Township in Mandalay, according to one source.

The monks started their talk around noon before an audience of about 1,200 people. Most of the audience was made up of monks, sources said.
“The location that they were protesting in is a teaching-monastery, so their talks could disturb the student monks,” said an audience member.
Before the five monks moved to a monastery in Pyigyitagun, they met with journalists for about 30 minutes.

“The abbots took them to the Pyigyitagun monastery in a van arranged by the authorities. Abbots from the [Mandalay Region] Sangha committee accompanied them,” said a resident.

Earlier Wednesday, the protesting monks had lunch and then, along with about 20 government intelligence officials in civilian clothes, they listened to a 15-minute sermon by abbots in the dining room of the monastery.
“Generally, they accepted the requests of the abbots after their negotiations,” said a resident who attended the abbots’ sermon.
The abbots told the five monks to demand just one point, the right to freely deliver religious sermons without having to have approval of the administrative office head in advance.
One of the monks later told the audience that they sent an appeal that contained a three-point demand to President Thein Sein, with a copy to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee at Gaba Aye Hill.
“They asked whether the audience agreed with them or not? People shouted three times that they agreed,” said an audience member.  
The five monks talked about loving-kindness and democracy and then they said prayers in Pali and the Burmese language.
At the end of the talk, the monks and audience members recited religious slogans that monks had recited during the 2007 “Saffron Revolution,” such as “May human beings stop torturing each other” and “May our love spread across the world.”
Ashin Sopaka, the group’s leader, left Burma in 2001 and traveled in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and Japan. He arrived in Germany in 2003 where he established a Buddhist centre.

In 2009, he lived on the Thai-Burmese border and formed “The Best Friend International” organization, which offered English and computer training to refugees and migrant workers free of charge.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 November 2011 19:51 )  

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