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Burma Politics Update - 2003-11-08


In their meeting on Thursday November 6, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi told U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro that she wants other political prisoners to be released before her.

She also said democracy road map for Burma should be drawn by all parties concerned including democratic forces and not by SPDC (military government) alone.

The Nobel laureate also expressed that the 30th May Depayin violence be probed and justice brought against responsible people. She indicated that she has made security arrangements with authorities for her to meet guests she would want to meet.

Meanwhile in Burma, tension between Buddhist monks and the military is rising in the wake of racial violence in the last two weeks. Early this week, 150 monks out of 300 who reside in Gandhayone Monastery of Tipitaka Sayadaw U Thumingala in Kaba Aye, Rangoon, in protest refused to eat lunch offered by top officials of the State Peace and Development Council.

The authorities promptly asked these boycotting monks to leave the monastery and return to their native towns and villages. Similar action is being taken against other protesting monks in Rangoon, Mandalay, Pakkoku, Meiktila and other cities and towns.

Many monks also boycotted the lunch offered by the Rangoon Military Command at Bagaya Monastery recently. Some monks even confronted the military commanders with questions like why Buddhist monks were imposed with restriction when Muslims were not.

In general, young monks throughout the country are angry with the national governing body Sangha Maha Nayaka Council for sending directives requiring monks to surrender anti-Muslim or anti-government documents or books. The monks were also told serious action will be taken if they fail to do so.

The government is trying hard to ease the tension by sponsoring mass lunch offering ceremonies at monasteries where violence took place in the last two weeks.

Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt attended the Kathina Robe Offering Ceremony at Masoyein Monastery in Mandalay on November 6. This monastery lost one of its monks with gunshot wound during the protest last week. Three other monks from other monasteries were wounded in the riot and hospitalized.

On the other hand, the authorities have reportedly informed ethnic cease-fire groups to go ahead with delegate-choosing process for the upcoming National Convention. The 20 or so groups are planning to send five delegates each to the Convention.

Unconfirmed reports say the venue for the National Convention could possibly be at Phaunggyi Civil Service Training School or at the Hmawbi Officers' Training School--both in the Rangoon Division.

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