September 26, 2007
Bloodshed at Ground
Some sixty military tracks surrounded in circle the Shwedagon Pagoda that day. The troops barricade the Pagoda and the Bronze Image with cables deterring to enter the places. We had seen them in their readiness to attack us with their shields and batons.
We had faced with formal uniformed soldiers, guards holding shields and bamboo-sticks, and government thugs accompanied with well known the USDA members who were taking places to deter before us.
‘It’s dangerous for us today, we’ve to move,’ a monk led me to other place, saying, the Bronze Image was blocked. Come on, Ashin, don’t come to look at it!, one of my colleagues took my right arm and led me to escape.
The middle platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda was blocked severely that day, so that I was shocked. Gathering took place _ accumulation of monks and people soon became a crowd!
We saw soldiers deterring with barbed wire at the mouth of the Shwedagon Pagoda’s eastern gate. We were then at the middle platform. Monks attacked the deterrence of the gate at the ground to meet us. We were blocked not to go upwards or downwards. At that time, we had to deal with the military junta peacefully. The crowd at the foot of the Pagoda was waiting to support us according to the situation.
The Shwedagon Pagoda trustee members, Yangon Mayor U Aung Thein Lin, General Myint Swe, General Win Myint, General Htay Oo, Director General of the Police Force Khin Yi, Military Commander of Yangon Division the police chief of Bahan township where the Shwedagon Pagoda exists came to meet us at about ten in the morning. We had a long conversation then.
They asked us, ‘What is the purpose of your demonstration? Monks are not concerned with politics. We would thus, like to suggest you to go back to your monasteries as soon as possible. If you don’t accept our suggestion, we’ll take sever action to you.”
I replied them, “The cause of the demonstration is very simple. Some monks were tied to the lamppost and beaten because they went around the town and recited the Mitta Sutta. We demanded the apology for that insult to monks and Buddhist religion. Another thing is Myanmar citizens are suffering from the sudden rise of consumer products and oil. We want the government to solve it fairly. However, you pay no attention for the public demands.
If you could have solved them before the deadline, people would be happy; monks would stay at ease in their monasteries and the government wouldn’t do such things to lose its dignity. There will then be no general uprising. The purpose of our demonstrations is too simple to be asked questions.”
Smiles on their faces disappeared suddenly. One of them was shaking his head and said to me, “Monks are not concerned with politics.”
I sharply replied them, ‘I think you’ve a very narrow outlook. We were born there grew there and lived there in this country, our homeland, Myanmar. The affairs of this country are concerned with us. We are monks, depending on the donors, the citizens of Myanmar. How can we give a blind eye to the hardness of the people? If the government had taken the responsibility to solve it, there will no demonstration on the streets. You said that you will take sever action on us. You are threatening and challenging our peaceful demonstration. We need no command to go back to our monasteries. The best way is to open your blockade for us to go down the Pagoda.’
They went back after my words.
We went down from the eastern gate, reciting the Mitta Sutta. At the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda, the blockade was still there. We sat down and started reciting the Mitta Sutta.
Then, at the same time, it started their forceful beating the monks at the front with their batons with whistle alarm. I heard a strange sound among the noisy beating and felt an immense heat at my face.
Someone held my right hand and dragged me. I tried to open my eyes, but saw purple plain but nothing. I was in the riot only hearing the shooting, beating, screaming, and crying sounds in my ears. I gripped the hand that held me with fear. I was following him hysterically. I knew that I was in the compound of a monastery after a long run. I tried to open my eyes; I felt my eyes were smarting. Everything was still blurred in my eyes. I knew later that it was because of tear-gas bomb.
I peeped outside from behind the wall of the monastery compound. I saw monks, nuns and people, running, police force, and their thugs following and beating them with their batons cruelly. The fallen ones were dragged from their legs, hands or hairs to the trucks and threw onto them.
‘We’ve to run to the Uhtaungbo junctions!’
I heard a man’s voice. Five monks including two women and me ran along with him through narrow lanes of the monasteries towards the Uhtaungbo road.
There were plenty ones who escaped from the violent crackdown, with blood in faces, or injuries at their bodies. We were gathering on the road. A bus, then, reached in front of us; nearly a hundred monks stepped down to the road.
I warned the monks, ‘We will face death. Let’s march to the Sule Pagoda, reciting the Mitta Sutta!’
We went round the Kandawgyi Lake, the prominent public park of Yangon, marching towards the heart of Yangon, the Sule Pagoda. To my surprise, everybody joined in our march.
I knew later that people had been waiting us because they knew the event through their phone connections. When we reached the Sule Pagoda, thousands of people were involving in the demonstration. In our march’s opposite side, I saw, Theingyi Market place, there were, also, a great crowd waiting for us.
However, the Sule Pagoda have already barricaded by the military forces. People cried at the positioned soldiers, raising their fists to show their defiance,
‘Military science brought by General Aung San is not to kill us!’
We parted at about five thirty in the evening, returning to our places. I wondered why the government had taken Buddhism as the state religion committed such public crime against its believers and the religion. I was on my bed having the nightmare of the event that day.
We witnessed the bloodshed of the monks and people on the 26th September, 2007. A cruel event of the military dictatorship oppressing the peaceful Buddhist monks was witnessed all over the world through the media.