Myanmar quietly releases 96 monks | world | Hindustan Times
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Myanmar quietly releases 96 monks

Myanmar's military regime has released from detention 96 monks who participated in September's marches, permitting half of them to return to the Ngwekyaryan monastery in Yangon, sources said on Monday.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2007 10:10 IST

Myanmar's military regime has released from detention 96 monks who participated in September's marches, permitting half of them to return to the Ngwekyaryan monastery in Yangon, sources said on Monday.

Authorities released the 96 monks, including Abbot Sayadaw U Yevada, last on Friday from the Kaba Aye detention centre, where they had been kept since the government crackdown on monk-led protests on September 26-27.

Some 50 monks were permitted to return to the Ngwekyaryan monastery in Yangon, but the other 46 were ordered to leave the city, said the sources, who visited the monastery over the weekend.

Myanmar's monkhood, which has a long history of political activism, took the lead in organising peaceful protests against drastic fuel hikes announced on August 15 and the country's deteriorating economic conditions.

The demonstrations culminated in ten-of-thousands taking to the streets of Yangon in increasingly aggressive protests against the military, which has ruled the country for the past 45 years.

The junta finally cracked down on September 26-27 with batons and bullets, killing at least 15 people and imprisoning more than 3,000.

The actual death toll and the number of people still in prison remains a mystery in Myanmar. At a government press conference on December 3 in Naypyitaw, the new administrative capital, Myanmar police chief Khin Yi claimed only 21 monks and 59 laymen remain in Myanmar jails on charges related to the protests.

Abbot Gambira, one of the top leaders of the monks' movement, was recently sentenced to life imprisonment, according to a retired religious affairs ministry official who asked to remain anonymous.