Hundreds of Buddhist monks have again defied their military rulers in Myanmar, with new street protests against shock rises in fuel prices. The latest march comes a day after soldiers fired tear gas and plastic bullets to disperse a similar demonstration in the coastal town of Sittwe.
Monks have also protested in five other towns and cities in Myanmar, which used to be called Burma, including the former capital Yangon. A new group of militant young monks appears to be co-ordinating the protests, refusing Buddhism’s traditional donations of food and money from anyone connected to the military.
It is deeply embarrassing for the ruling junta. Monks are highly-respected in Buddhist society and any heavy-handed crackdown on their protest risks sparking more widespread public anger. Aung San Suu Kyi is the best-known leader of Myanmar’s opposition. She has been under more or less constant house arrest since the junta ignored the results of elections in 1990 which they lost by a landslide.