Friday, August 18, 2017

More protests if demands not met: Assn

A group calling itself the ‘Patriotic Association’ held a protest on May 20 at the Shwe Nant Thar football ground in Ottarathiri township, Nay Pyi Taw, against what it alleges were unfair actions by Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko.

Protesters make an eight-point demand at the Shwe Nant Thar football ground in Ottarathiri township, Nay Pyi Taw on May 20. Htoo Thant / The Myanmar TimesProtesters make an eight-point demand at the Shwe Nant Thar football ground in Ottarathiri township, Nay Pyi Taw on May 20. Htoo Thant / The Myanmar Times

Monks and other people, numbering over a thousand, were at the protest, demanding that the President and the State Counsellor take action against the minister. They also demanded his resignation.

During the demonstration, the group made an eight-point demand that included asking for the release of U Win Ko Ko Latt (one of four nationalists held for inciting violence during protests in Yangon last year) and for the controversial monk U Wirathu to be allowed to preach again after a ban was imposed on him by the authorities.

The group also accused Thura U Aung Ko of being biased towards Muslims.

They said that they would give the authorities a month and if no action is taken by then, they would intensify the demonstrations and street protests.

The monks and others from Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady regions, Kayin and Mon states were present at the protest, chanting several slogans.

Among the slogans were, ‘Perpetuation of Buddhism is our cause’, ‘The protection of Buddhism is our cause’, and ‘Resignation of Religious Affairs and Culture Minister is our cause.’

They also said that ‘the enemy of Sasana is our enemy.’

At the protest, four persons, including the leading monk and U Hla Swe, a former Amyotha Hluttaw MP, denounced Thura U Aung Ko.

They said they strongly objected to Thura U Aung Ko, whom they accused of giving personal protection to reporter Ko Swe Win who is alleged to have given preference to other religions rather than Buddhism.

Although the protest organisers asked the authorities to allow 30,000 people, only 300 were allowed to protest within an area designated to them.

The 300 were restricted to an area that was enclosed by ropes while the rest stayed outside the area.

Meanwhile, Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung from Nay Pyi Taw said that as the protesters had complied with the law, no action would be taken against them.

Residents said that this was the biggest protest in Nay Pyi Taw. The protesters came in two groups – from upper Myanmar and lower Myanmar. The latter stayed overnight at Aung Kone village, the native village of well-known actress Daw Khin Than Nu.

Security measures were beefed up by local authorities to avoid any trouble. One person, however, was forcefully removed from the football grounds for creating a disturbance.

Otherwise, the protest ended peacefully without any problems.

“Local residents, especially the people who were unaware of the protest, were scared to see police stationed in their area the previous night.

“But, fortunately, there were no problems,” a resident, Ko Zin Min Kyaw, said.

Translation by Zaw Nyunt