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Buddhism in the News


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Situation in Burma Day 12. Hope Fading, Monks Tortured and Killed.

AP, Sept 29, 2007

YANGON, Myanmar -- Soldiers and police took control of the streets Friday, firing warning shots and tear gas to scatter the few pro-democracy protesters who ventured out as Myanmar's military junta sealed off Buddhist monasteries and cut public Internet access.

On the third day of a harsh government crackdown, the streets were empty of the mass gatherings that had peacefully challenged the regime daily for nearly two weeks, leaving only small groups of activists to be chased around by security forces.

Thousands of monks had provided the backbone of the protests, but they were besieged in their monasteries, penned in by locked gates and barbed wire surrounding the compounds in the two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. Troops stood guard outside and blocked nearby roads to keep the clergymen isolated.

Many Yangon residents seemed pessimistic over the crackdown, fearing it fatally weakened a movement that began nearly six weeks ago as small protests over fuel price hikes and grew into demonstrations by tens of thousands demanding an end to 45 years of military rule.

The corralling of monks was a serious blow. They carry high moral authority in this predominantly Buddhist nation of 54 million people and the protests had mushroomed when the clergymen joined in.

"The monks are the ones who give us courage. I don't think that we have any more hope to win," said a young woman who had taken part in a huge demonstration Thursday that broke up when troops shot protesters. She said she had not seen her boyfriend and feared he was arrested.

James: Despite this news of fading hope we know that things will change one day for the Burmese people. We take refuge in the Dharma which involves realization and a deep understanding of impermanence. The impermanence of the situation in Burma is evident on so many levels and the crackdowns remind those of us who live in better situations to not take that reality for granted, for it will indeed disappear one day. All is impermanent so now is the time to find peace within, so that just like these monks, nothing will keep us down or terrorize us with fear.


Eye witnesses said that numerous monasteries were raided on Friday with reports that many monks were beaten and arrested. Whole monasteries were reported to have been trashed with blood and broken glass seen everywhere.

An unconfirmed account had it that a monastery at an obscure neighborhood of Yangon, called Ngwe Kyar Yan (on Wei-za-yan-tar Road, Yangon) was raided early in the morning of Sept 28, 2007.

A troop of "lone-tein" - the local name for the riot police which comprises mainly of paid thugs and protected by the military, attacked the monastery with 200 monks studying there.

They systematically rounded up all the monks and ordered them to line up. Then, one after another, brute force was used to push their heads against the brick wall of the monastery, in many cases crushing the monks' skulls.

One by one, the non-resisting monks fell to the ground, screaming in pain. The "lone-teins" then tore off the red robes from the monks, threw the bodies into the military trucks (like rice bags) and taken away to an unknown location.

The head monk of the monastery, who was tied up in the middle of the monastery was tortured and bludgeoned. He was said to have died later in the same day.

James: Despite this awful news I would imagine that those monks (and citizens) who gave their lives are well on their way to Buddhahood.


I am making a statement of support and sympathy for the heroic efforts of the Buddhist Monks, Nuns, Students, and all the Burmese Laypeople who are peacefully protesting against the injustice and oppression of the present government of Myanmar.
It is very confusing and distressing to witness a government which claims to respect the Buddhist religion react to a peaceful protest in such a violent and brutal way.

I have always held the Sangha in Burma with great respect. I ask the present government to listen to the Sangha and to seek a way of reconciliation in accord with the Dhamma which will be for the welfare and happiness of all.

I send all my blessings to the peaceful protesters and my compassion to the Government of Myanmar which has strayed so far from the wisdom and compassion of the Lord Buddha.

~Peace to all beings~

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dharma::vision by Amadeus said...

Hey James,

Not sure if you caught this. This is the latest from Ko today--a translated conversation he had with someone on the phone reporting that injured protestors/civilians are being burned at a crematorium.

I emailed one of my D.C. CNN press contacts from when I worked on the SCOTUS Alito fight to see if CNN has looked into this. Others should do the same if they haven't already so this can be brought out. ~Amadeus

Today heart breaking message from inside burma

Telephone conversation with a members of public

Er… they shot… people got killed. Er…but it seems like it wasn't as bad as yesterday in terms of number of deaths, however we will know the accurate picture tomorrow. Er… la another disturbing news is that er… I would like to know if you would inform BBC and CNN about? (sob!!!) They burned the injured protesters/civilian people in the YaeWay Crematorium la la . Er… the staff from crematorium told this, crying, to the people who went to the funeral service. Please let this known to CNN and BBC. Thank you!!

FRITZ said...

How can we continue to hope when we see a most peaceful group of people victimized and tortured?

We must see it as part of the whole. We must see it as a call to peaceful action, ourselves.

I must wonder why the USA continues its restless plunder of the Middle East but does not throw lifelines to Myanmar.

krista said...

hi, just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you writing about this.

thank you.

They call him James Ure said...


Good to see you here at the BB!!!

I hadn't seen that convo until you posted this. Thanks for sending it along.


We must see it as part of the whole. We must see it as a call to peaceful action, ourselves.

That's exactly right. That is something very real that we can do. For as Thich Nhat Hanh says, (and I'm paraphrasing here) There can be no peace in world until there is peace within yourself.

I have no idea why our government doesn't do more. They should be talking non-stop to China in order to put more pressure on the junta in Burma. Then again, perhaps they are behind the scenes.


You're welcome. It's the least that I can do to help my brothers and sisters in Burma.

Jen said...

What really gets to me is that a lot of the soldiers beating, arresting and slaughtering the monks as well as disrobing them, humlilating and disrespecting them are buddhists themselves. They say they are soldiers first and Buddhist last. Is that possible? To put your belief system aside and do as you're told, is not living by the Dharma, the Buddha said to go against the stream and the social norm. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama said that society is like a body with arms and legs as parts of it. He said that the arm is different from the leg but if something happens to the foot, the hand should reach down to help it. Why is there nothing more that we can do? It is near impossible to sit in meditation every day and focus on nothing but the breath. I have the images of the monks burned into my mind and as I sit in quiet meditation they are all I can think of. Blessings to them and to you choice few who share concerns. Love to you all Namaste.

They call him James Ure said...


Thank-you for the DL quote. It is so appropriate for this situation. And I too do not know how those Buddhists in the military can beat the monks.

They probably think that if they don't do it that they will be beaten and killed too. I'm not saying that is right but perhaps that's a reason.

Thank-you for the love and I return the gesture. _/I\_

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