Re­mem­ber­ing the Saf­fron Revo­lu­tion, nearly one decade later

Bud­dhist monks yes­ter­day gath­ered at Sh­wedagon Pagoda to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary of the 2007 up­ris­ing and re­flect on the changes over the nine years that have since elapsed.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - AUNG KYAW MIN aungkyawmin@mm­times.com

A LEADER of the Saf­fron Revo­lu­tion yes­ter­day called for a “mas­ter plan” to erad­i­cate poverty in Myan­mar, at an event mark­ing the ninth an­niver­sary of the pop­u­lar up­ris­ing, which was sparked by de­te­ri­o­rat­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions in the coun­try.

U Pan­nya Vamsa said that any gov­ern­ment, whether the dic­ta­to­rial regime he helped rally peo­ple against nine years ago or a demo­crat­i­cally elected ad­min­is­tra­tion, needed such a plan if it was to stave off pop­u­lar dis­con­tent.

“If they are go­ing for­ward with­out it, they would not be favoured by the peo­ple and Sangha monks would not be sat­is­fied with their ac­tions,” he said, us­ing the of­fi­cial name for the Bud­dhist monas­tic or­der.

An­other prom­i­nent monk, Ashin San­dar Thiri, used the ninth an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion to call for fur­ther­ing devel­op­ment, hu­man rights and democrati­sa­tion, say­ing the Saf­fron Revo­lu­tion, while led by monks, re­flected a fight for the in­ter­ests of the lay pop­u­la­tion as well. That should in­clude re­leas­ing Myan­mar’s re­main­ing political pris­on­ers, he said.

Read­ing from a pre­pared state­ment, U Agga Yazar used the an­niver­sary to urge Bud­dhists to fol­low the ways of the Bud­dha, avoid­ing in­sti­ga­tion of mem­bers of other re­li­gions and races through pro­pa­ganda or hate speech.

Mem­bers of Myan­mar’s Bud­dhist, Chris­tian, Mus­lim and Hindu com­mu­ni­ties at­tended yes­ter­day’s cer­e­mony in Yan­gon, which in­cluded a march by about 200 peo­ple to Sh­wedagon Pagoda, where prayers for peace were of­fered.

Though the Saf­fron Revo­lu­tion played out over the course of sev­eral weeks, Septem­ber 18 marks the day the monks an­nounced that they would refuse do­na­tions from mem­bers of the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment and took to the streets en masse. Ris­ing fuel and com­mod­ity prices had been stok­ing ini­tial out­rage for weeks, with the protests even­tu­ally spi­ralling to in­clude calls for greater demo­cratic free­doms.

A vi­o­lent crack­down in Oc­to­ber ul­ti­mately quelled the re­bel­lion, with more than 100 peo­ple re­port­edly killed. Of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment fig­ures at the time put the ca­su­alty count much lower.

PHOTO: AFP

Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

A cer­e­mony com­mem­o­rates the 2007 monk-led Saf­fron Revo­lu­tion yes­ter­day in Yan­gon.

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