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Statement Regarding Recent Demonstrations in Burma
Muslim Liberation Organization of Burma, The BurmaNet News, Issue #674, 24 March 1997
March 20th, 1997
The recent demonstrations were sparked by the deaths of 16 Buddhist monks in prison.
It is with great regret that we have heard that sixteen Buddhist monks were forcibly disrobed and were then brutally tortured to death by prison officials. Following this incident, Mandalay monks began anti-government demonstrations on March 17th. The demands made by the people and the monks during these demonstrations were for the authorities to announce a list of monks currently detained in Burmese prisons, and to release these monks.
The SLORC is afraid that this kind of demonstrations could lead to political unrest, and may even threaten their very power base. They therefore immediately circulated a story that the Mandalay monks demonstrations were triggered by Buddhist-Muslim tension following an alleged rape case. This is not the first time that the SLORC has used this type of religious misinformation campaign. The first Buddhist-Muslim conflicts were created and provoked by the regim in two major cities during the 1988 pro-democracy uprisings in Taunggyi and in Prome. Ne Win's government also employed this tactic to create a major riot between Burmese and Chinese people in 1967, to distract people from their real conflict with the government, which was over greatly inflated rice prices.
The Burmese people, both Muslim and Buddhist, know the tricks of the SLORC well and will fight this military dictatorship together.