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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Show of strength

September 26, 2007

Gulf Daily News
25th September 2007

YANGON: More than 100,000 people flooded the streets of Myanmar's
biggest city yesterday, joining Buddhist monks in the strongest show of
dissent against the ruling generals in two decades. Two major marches
snaked their way through Yangon, the nation's commercial capital, led by
robed monks chanting prayers of peace and compassion, witnesses said.

However, the ruling junta yesterday threatened to "take action" against
the monks, state media reported.

In the first official reaction to a week of escalating protests led by
the monks, religion minister Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung, met
senior clergy to deliver the warning.

"If the monks go against the rules and regulations in the authority of
the Buddhist teachings, we will take action under the existing law," the
minister said.

Protesters marched through the rain under a banner reading: "This is a
peaceful mass movement."

It lasted nearly five hours, ending with prayers at pagodas before the
crowds returned to their homes.

More than 800 of them stopped to pray near a roadblock guarded by 100
riot police blocking the street to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's
home, but they did not try to press their way to the compound where she
is under house arrest.

The monks and supporters set off from holy Shwedagon Pagoda and walked
past the offices of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which
won elections in 1990 but was never allowed to govern.

For the first time, the marchers included NLD MPs.

"We are marching for the people," one monk told the crowd, urging them
not to chant political slogans and only to recite prayers of peace.

A second march estimated by witnesses at up to 100,000 people headed
north of the city, drawing in ever more as it marched past the
now-closed campus of a university that was the scene of the 1988 uprising.

Political dissidents based in Thailand said major protests also took
place in Myanmar's second city of Mandalay, the western oil town of
Sittwe, and the religious centre of Pakokku.

Meanwhile, US President George W Bush will today announce additional
sanctions against the military dictatorship in Myanmar to support the
push for democracy, the White House said last night.

Bush, in a speech at the UN General Assembly, will announce financial
sanctions against key members of the regime and those who provide them
financial aid.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama offered his support to
protesting monks and urged the military government not to react with
violence.

"I extend my support and solidarity with the recent peaceful movement
for democracy in Burma," he said in a message released by the Tibet
office and datelined in Dharamsala in northern India.

"As a Buddhist monk, I am appealing to the members of the military
regime who believe in Buddhism to act in accordance with the spirit of
compassion and non-violence."

The head of the Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad yesterday hailed the
"spirit" of the opposition in Myanmar and said he hoped their leader Suu
Kyi would be freed so she could finally collect her Peace Prize.

Malaysian legislators yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations to use its influence to push Myanmar, itself a member of the
regional bloc, to reform.

l India has pledged to invest $150 million (BD56.7m) for gas exploration
in Myanmar.

Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora witnessed the signing of three accords
between state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and the state-run
Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise at Nay Pyi Taw, the administrative
capital of Myanmar.

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