Around 500 Buddhist monks were arrested in overnight raids in Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital, and the north of the country – possibly partly provoking today’s large turn-out of protestors on the streets. According to witnesses, soldiers smashed windows and doors at the monasteries, and beat sleeping monks. Some escaped, but hundreds were taken away in military trucks.
With so many arrested and others isolated in their monastries, dissidents fear the protests could begin to run out of steam. The mass action has grown out of anger at the government’s decision to double the price of fuel in August. Over the past six weeks, demonstrations have grown from sporadic protests to gigantic rallies involving tens of thousands of people – unheard of in Myanmar since 1988. That was the date of the last big pro-democracy protests, which were brutally repressed and resulted in some 3,000 deaths.