October 15, 2007

Burma Protest Leaders Arrested

Terrible news continues to filter out of Burma. Leading protesters have now been rounded up, just as UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, is about to return to Burma for talks.

In the International Herald Tribune today, were shocking accounts from people who had witnessed the crackdown and its aftermath. Comments by a Burmese English teacher, who teaches monks, particularly upset me:

'It is almost coming on 50 years that we have clung to our culture by tolerating this military government. But something we revered [the monks] was insulted.

I cannot continue to tolerate this. We only hope that bad karma will fall upon them but there's nothing else we can do now.

I know dozens of monks. One monk is very old. He is 78. It never occurred to him that in his lifetime he would have to hide. The day after the shootings started, I went to this monastery and the faces that I saw on those monks was something I had never seen. It is not fear. It was a sadness so unbelievable.

Now the young monks that I talked to - who weren't rounded up - they want to disrobe. They don't have the moral courage to go on.

"Better to be a layman," they said.

I told them that this would be a terrible loss for our Buddhism.

"No," they say. "What's the use of meditation? The power of meditation can't stop them from beating us."

The worst thing now is that no amount of persuasion from the abbots will stop the young monks from disrobing.'

For the monks to be broken by the government is a major blow to the pro-democracy movement. Their symbolism and heroic stand has been vital to the cause, and it is imperative that they continue to be the mentors of Burma's heart and moral obligations.

Indeed, those who have authorised such brutality against the monks and the people, will reap the karma of their actions. Time is ticking...

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