Dozens of pro-democracy Buddhist monks took to the streets of Myanmar’s second largest city on Saturday, rallying against the military coup in protests that coincided with the 14th anniversary of previous clergy-led mass protests .
Myanmar has been in turmoil and its economy crippled since February, when the military overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi, ending a ten-year experiment with democracy.
Across the country, anti-junta resistance took root, prompting the military to unleash a brutal crackdown on dissent. More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 8,400 arrested, according to a local watch group.
Historically, monks in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar have been viewed as a supreme moral authority, organizing communities and sometimes mobilizing opposition to military regimes. But the coup revealed a schism within the monastic community, with some prominent clerics blessing generals and others supporting protesters.
On Saturday, dozens of monks in their bright orange and crimson robes marched through the streets of Mandalay with flags and banners and threw colorful banners into the air.
“Monks who love the truth stand on the side of the people,” a protest leader told TBEN.
The monks chanted for the release of political prisoners, including members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, which won a landslide in the elections last November.
Some monks carried alms bowls upside down – typically used to collect food donations from the community – in protest against the junta regime, which calls itself the Board of Trustees of the ‘State.
“We have to take risks (…) to protest because we can be arrested or shot at any time. We are no longer safe to live in our monasteries,” a 35-year-old monk told TBEN.
In 2007, Buddhist monks led huge nationwide protests against the former military junta regime – an uprising that began after a sudden rise in fuel prices.
The “saffron revolution” posed a serious crisis of legitimacy for the then 35-year-old dictatorship, which responded with brutal repressions that killed at least 31 people and saw hundreds of monks defrocked and arrested.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)