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Burma Military Blocks Monks from Reaching Home of Democracy Leader

  • VOA News

A group of Buddhist monks and their backers have abandoned a bid to reach the home of a detained Burmese democracy leader after military forces blocked their way.

The Burmese military on Sunday forcibly prevented several hundred monks and their supporters from reaching the Rangoon home of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Another group of monks reached her home in a separate march on Saturday.

Earlier, a crowd estimated at 20-thousand people -- about half of them monks --rallied in Rangoon in the largest show of defiance of the military government in 20 years. The group marched from Burma's most revered shrine, the Shwedagon Pagoda, to downtown Rangoon.

For the first time, nuns also joined the procession - the monks' sixth consecutive day of anti-government marches.

The monks had earlier warned the public against joining the protests, but they have since called on civilians to support their pro-democracy movement.

On Saturday, witnesses said soldiers unexpectedly allowed the monks to pass a blockade and hold a short prayer vigil in front of Aung San Suu Kyi's house.

The Nobel Peace laureate has been held under house arrest for most of the past two decades. Witnesses say she came to the gates of her compound and greeted the monks in her first public appearance in four years.

Opposition activists started the anti-government demonstrations in mid-August after the military leaders doubled the price of fuel. After police arrested at least 50 activists, the monks took the lead in the demonstrations.

Monks are highly regarded in the devoutly Buddhist country and are credited with helping rally popular support for a 1988 mass protest against the government. Government security forces ended those demonstrations with deadly force.

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