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Burmese Monks Reluctantly Accept Donations From Military

08 October 2007

Burma's state-controlled media say the country's military dictatorship has donated thousands of dollars to Buddhist monasteries across the country, ostensibly to promote reconciliation. The United Nations Security Council is considering a statement condemning the junta's violent crackdown on monks and other protesters over the past two weeks. Chad Bouchard reports from Bangkok.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper says the Burmese government has given about $8,000, food and medical supplies to 50 monasteries.

Buddhist monks began boycotting military donations last month and led peaceful street protests in Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities. Police stopped the demonstrations with live gunfire, tear gas, clubs and mass arrests.

The government says it is searching for four monks suspected of leading the protests.

One of the wanted monks, Ashin Gambiya, told VOA that the Buddhist clergy were intimidated into accepting the government's money, despite their boycott.

He says the monks consider the money to be dirty, so they accepted it but will put it aside and refuse to use it, so their boycott is still going on.

The ruling military council announced Saturday that 78 more people have been arrested in connection with the demonstrations.

State media also say pornography and weapons were confiscated during raids on monasteries.

The government says it has released more than half the people arrested in the crackdown.

The United Nations' special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, has briefed members of the U.N. Security Council after his visit to Burma.

The 15-member Security Council is to debate a draft statement Monday denouncing Burma's violent response to the peaceful demonstrations and calling for the release of political detainees.

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