Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Buddhist monks, nuns lead pro-democracy protests in Burma

Brothers and sisters,

What is our role as people of faith and conscience when concerns in society need to be addressed?

A major purpose of the Peace Witness Action List is to support the possibility that when our communities need it, we as people of faith will act.

We will act, rooted in our spirits and reaching out in connection our apparent opponents, but also faithful to the vision we've been given of a different order.

Here's a story from Burma -- Have you been following the news there this week?

Note the role of prayer and spiritual leadership in this story. What form will your spiritual leadership take?

peace + grace,
Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

Buddhist monks, nuns lead pro-democracy protests in Burma

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Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 24/09/2007

Reporter: Karen Percy

For the seventh day straight, Bhuddist monks in Burma have taken to the streets to protest against the ruling military junta.


TONY JONES: Buddhist monks in Burma have taken to the streets for the seventh straight day to protest against the ruling military junta.

Tens of thousands of civilians have joined the demonstrations in what looks increasingly like a replay of the 1988 pro-democracy push.

Those protests ended in violence, but the monks say they are determined to keep these demonstrations peaceful.

Whether that happens depends largely on the ruling generals, who are facing their biggest threat in 20 years.

South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy.

KAREN PERCY: Day after day they�ve braved possible retaliation from the military junta. Tens of thousands of protesters have reportedly joined the monks on the streets of Rangoon and other cities across Burma, their demonstrations captured by secret cameras. The monks are determined to keep their protest peaceful. Prayer has been an important part of their actions which have centred on Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda, the country's spiritual heart.

SOE AUNG, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE UNION OF BURMA: In our country the monks are the highest moral authority of the society, and then when the monks take the leading role, you know, in the movement, then people would follow, you know, eventually.

KAREN PERCY: In a rare move, Buddhist nuns have also joined the action. Civilians held hands on the sidelines to provide protection for the monks who've been protesting for a week now. While ultimately they want an end to the military junta, they are prepared to negotiate.

They're demanding greater political freedoms and the release of political prisoners including their hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, who's been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years. On Saturday, marchers were able to gather outside her home. A teary-eyed Suu Kyi reportedly said little during her first contact with her supporters in more than four years.

SOE AUNG: She will not continue to keep quiet, my understanding is that she will do something to solve the situation. Given the limitation, what she can do is another question.

KAREN PERCY: Exile activists are watching events across the border with both hope and fear.

SOE AUNG: How the military would respond is we have to see, you know, in the future, in the coming days or weeks. But my request to the military regime is that this is a time that they should solve the problem in our country, especially the people suffering, not only the economics, but also the political situation. So that they should come to the dialogue.

KAREN PERCY: The military junta hasn't seen this kind of dissent in almost 20 years and so far it has not intervened.

SOE AUNG: The military government must know that they cannot last forever.

KAREN PERCY: But activists fear it won't be long before there's a repeat of the violent put-down of the 1988 pro-democracy movement. Karen Percy, Lateline.


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