Friday, September 28, 2007

Myanmar abbots tread fine line

Buddhist monks have been at the forefront of the recent anti-government protests in Myanmar...some commentators believe the presence of the abbots, or Sayadaw, on the streets could provide the tipping point for the overthrow of the military government.... In just a few days, as the monks took up the vanguard of protests, their silent marches turned into chanting and eventually to three key political demands: that the government lower commodity prices, free political prisoners and open dialogue with the opposition.... Zawana, a Myanmar monk who has been in Malaysia for two years, said senior monks cannot join the protests because they are kept under tight surveillance. "It is impossible for the senior monks to join demonstrations," Zawana said. ...The military government meanwhile has been quick to seize on the fact that many of the country's 600,000 monks have not joined in the protests, with state media painting a picture of disunity among the monkhood....But the abbots appear to be treading a fine line between detachment from temporal affairs and compassion for people - both core tenets of Buddhist teachings....

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