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Protesting Burmese monks agree to move to new location to deliver a talk

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Five Burmese Buddhist monks who are staging a protest for the release of political prisoners have moved to a different monastery in Mandalay, but they told supporters they will continue their protest on Wednesday.

Burmese monks in Mandalay lift supplies from outside after they locked themselves inside a religious building to protest for the release of all political prisoners on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Five monks confined themselves inside the building and also called for a stop to internal fighting and for freedom of speech. It's the first time monks took to protests in Mandalay since a new government was elected. Photo: AFP The monks have met four times with a delegation sent by the authorities. An agreement was reached to move to the new location for three days where they will deliver a talk around 1 p.m on Wednesday inside the monastery compound. "The older monks asked them to be peaceful" said a resident.

The group is led by a former exiled monk-activist, Ashin Sopaka, who agreed to shift the protest location to Old Masoeyein Monastery. The negotiators from the regional-level Sangha reportedly promised to submit the protestors' demands, according to sources.

About 300 onlookers followed when the monks moved to the new location.

The protest started Tuesday morning around 5:30 a.m. Monks used a hand-held loud speaker to announce the protest.  Banners saying "Release Political Prisoners," "Stop Civil War" and "Give Us Freedom" were hung on the outside wall of the hall they occupied.

Nearly five hundred people gathered to hear their talk and offered water to the monks.  

A picture of Ashin Sopaka, one of the monks believed to be in the protest group. The protestors have asked to talk to political opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by phone, but so far there has been no contact with her.   

The group leader Ashin Sopaka staged a protest walk from Bangkok to Mae Sot, Thailand, in 2007.  

Monks who are politically active have been a source of concern for the Burmese government for decades. Mass protests led by monks in 2007 were sparked by the junta’s decision to remove fuel subsidies without warning, causing fuel prices to soar overnight.  

The protests peaked on September 24, 2007, when up to 100,000 people marched in Rangoon, the largest anti-government protests since the pro-democracy protests in August 1988. During the brutal military crackdown on the protests, Burma’s armed forces shot into the crowds, killing monks and civilians while they staged their non-violent protests.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 November 2011 21:33 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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