One witness said, “Our town is now blanketed with police forces by the authority because today is venerable monk Ottama day. The authority deployed the police forces to prevent any possible demonstrations or distribution of flyers regarding Ottama.”
At least five constables have been deployed at each intersection in Sittwe since Sunday.
Moreover, many riot police have also been deployed to key places in the city, including Sittwe University, Fire Brigade Intersection, Lawka Nandar Pagoda, Ottama Garden, Bura Gri Temple, U Ray Kyaw Thu Monastery, the town hall, and Bura Myar Thein.
The military authority has banned the observance of Ottama day in Burma, so residents, particularly students and monks, who respect Ottama, hold ceremonies in secret.
On 9 September last year, a group of Arakanese monks and elders marched to Ottama Garden to lay wreaths and light candles at the foot of the Ottama monument there, but the authorities stopped them.
When authorities blocked the entrance gate to Ottama Garden, a clash between the locals and police erupted, but was later solved by the high authority.
However, U Maung Nyo, a well-known community leader who led the march that day, was summoned to the police station and warned against doing anything similar in the future.
The authority is worried that a similar incident could occur again on Ottama day, and has deployed police forces around Sittwe in an effort to prevent any public observance of the anniversary, said the witness.
Ottama was a prominent educated monk in Burma who rallied the national spirit among Burmese people to fight against British rule for independence. He sacrificed his life for the independence of Burma. He was born in Sittwe on 27 December, 1879, and passed away in Rangoon on 9 September, 1939.