Security tightened during oil alms donations in Mon state

Sat 05 Sep 2009, IMNA, Jaloon Htaw
Burmese government authorities have been tightening security during the oil alms donation to the monks at Ro Go pagoda in Ro Go village, Moulmein Township, Mon State.

On September 2nd, members of Burmese government organizations attended the ceremony wearing full uniforms. Those groups in attendance in full uniform included solders from the Burmese army, members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and members of the fire brigade and traffic police. Nearly 100 people from these groups were waiting around the pagoda and village according to a monk that attended the donation ceremony.

While some organization members made donations, most carried out surveillance on civilians and monks. Some monks refused to accept donations from group members dressed in full uniform, continuing to walk away from them as they tried to make donations.

“We Buddhist monks come to accept the lay people’s donations,” said a monk from Moulmein Township. “The soldiers with uniforms and full military kits make the lay-people frightened and reduces their donations.”

This year about 20,000 people donated oil to the monks, despite tighter security than at last year’s ceremony, said a villager that attended the donation. “Not only at the pagoda but also in village the security has been tightened,” a villager commented. “Last year was not like that – this year they are waiting with gun. That is very bad thing while we donate to the monks.”

About 2,000 monks from the monk’s school and 100 nuns were part of the procession, asking for alms from donors. Monks involved in the ceremony are from Moulmein, Mudon and Thanbyuzayat Townships.

Authorities are worried that monks will be distributing leaflets by hand, and will carry out demonstrations like those in September 2007. For this reason authorities have been setting up securitiy throughout the area, according to the monk from Mudon Town.

The oil donation ceremony for monks occurs every year, but during September 2007 the ceremony in Ro Go village was canceled. That month in 2007, monks took to the streets of Rangoon, protesting, in what is now often referred to as the “Saffron Revolution”. Building form popular unrest over gas prices, monks joined the peaceful protests to restore the gas subsidies. The protest was ended after the Burmese military government cracked down killing civilians and monks.

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