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Burmese Monks Press Ahead with Protests


Hundreds of Buddhist monks are marching through Burma's main city of Rangoon and other cities to protest against the government, one day after authorities used force to suppress a similar procession.

Witnesses say at least 300 monks marched to Sule Pagoda Wednesday after authorities prevented them from entering Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma's holiest shrine. Monks also staged smaller rallies in other parts of the capital.

Witnesses say plainclothes police followed the monks and videotaped the procession, but did not intervene.

More than 800 monks in Sittwe held a sit-in to demand the release of men jailed last month for giving water to monks during a protest. The monks urged the public not to join in.

Burma's military rulers acknowledge using tear gas and firing warning shots Tuesday to break up a protest of about one thousand monks in Sittwe, 550 kilometers northwest of Rangoon.

The state-run "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper says authorities used force after the monks in Sittwe became violent. A protest march by monks in Rangoon Tuesday was not broken up.

Witnesses also say several hundred monks marched today in Mandalay.

Non-violent demonstrations have taken place across the country since mid-August, when the government doubled the price of fuel. Democracy activists initiated the protests, but Burma's monks have taken the forefront in recent weeks.

Monks helped organize Burma's last mass demonstrations in 1988, which the government put down with deadly force.

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