After bloody crackdown, Myanmar Buddhist group signals break with authorities


Myanmar's most powerful Buddhist monks' association called on the junta to end violence against protesters and accused an 'armed minority' of torture and killing innocent civilians since last month's coup, media said on Wednesday. 

In its most forthright condemnation of the military's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, the government-appointed organisation also said in a draft statement its members intended to halt activities, in an apparent protest. 

The State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee planned to release a final statement after consulting the religious affairs minister on Thursday, the Myanmar Now news portal said, citing a monk, who attended a meeting of the committee. 

Monks have a long history of activism in Myanmar and were at the forefront of a 2007 'Saffron Revolution' against military rule, an uprising that, although suppressed, helped usher in democratic reforms. 

Committee members could not immediately be reached for comment, but their reported stance would signal a significant rift between authorities and a group that usually works closely with the government. 

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government on February 1, detaining her and members of her party, drawing wide international condemnation. 

Ousted members of parliament, most from Suu Kyi's party, pushed for a united stand against the coup in the ethnically diverse country, saying the designation of terrorist would be lifted from all autonomy-seeking insurgents fighting for democracy. 

More than 180 protesters have been killed as security forces try to crush a wave of demonstrations, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says. 

Protesters confronted security forces over a sand-bag barricade on one street in Yangon. Police opened intermittent fire and one man appeared to get shot in the head, according to footage on social media. The video could not be verified.



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