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Burmese Monks Threaten Boycott of Soldiers' Alms


Buddhist monks warn to boycott the government if the authorities fail to apologize, by September 17th, for their attacks on the monks in Pakokku.

The Thailand-based "Irrawaddy" magazine also reports Tuesday that a group of Burmese monks is demanding the apology by next week. It says the monks are upset about an attack by government forces on Buddhist clergy during anti-government protests in the central city of Pakokku last Wednesday.

Security forces arrested and beat several monks during the protest against the military government's economic policies. Witnesses said soldiers also fired warning shots over the monks' heads.

Burma is a devoutly Buddhist nation and giving donations to monks is an important spiritual duty. A boycott of alms from soldiers could send a strong message to the military.

Meanwhile, a commentary in Burma's official New Light of Myanmar newspaper urged the public to stop anti-government protests, and warned that protests could push the country toward an abyss.

The three-page commentary instead urged the public to let their voices be heard by participating in a referendum on the country's new constitution "soon."

Burma completed constitutional talks for a new charter, a process that took 14 years, earlier this month. It is unclear when the document will be complete or when a vote could be held.

Protests have been erupting across Burma since the government doubled the price of fuel in August. Officials say the increase was needed because of high world oil prices.

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