Wednesday, September 26

Burma's military makes first big move against monks leading protests

"YANGON (Reuters) - Troops and riot police took up positions outside at least six big activist monasteries in Yangon on Wednesday as Myanmar's junta tried to prevent monks leading new protest marches against military rule, witnesses said.

Hundreds more waited in a park behind the Sule Pagoda, the city centre focus of the biggest protests against the generals in 20 years, apparently prepared to prevent any repetition, they said.

There was no immediate word from the monks on whether they would risk their first major confrontation with the junta by trying to march again despite fears of a repetition of the bloody end to a 1988 uprising, primarily in the Sule Pagoda area.

If they did, they would face hundreds of security personnel who poured into the area after a huge demonstration ended on Tuesday.

Their arrival was the first significant action by the junta against protests which grew from handfuls of people marching against sudden huge fuel price rises last month into mass demonstrations against military rule.[...]

[The military] picked up at least two activists overnight, relatives said.

Prominent comedian Za Ga Na, who had joined the monks on Monday in urging people to support the protests, was arrested at his home in Yangon along with activist Win Naing, relatives said.

In another move against monks, whose leadership on Monday was told to rein them in or face military force, a bus owner said drivers had been ordered not to pick up monks. [...]"

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