Friday, March 26, 2010

Monks and Riot Police Clash in Maungdaw


A clash between monks and riot police took place on Thursday at a religious festival in Maungdaw on the western Burmese border when a group of riot police assaulted locals after drinking alcohol, reports a monk from the festival.

"As we could not tolerate the misbehavior of the riot police against the people in the festival, we beat them with sticks and later tied two riot police with a rope in a pile that is erected for tying unruly people in the festival if they abuse the festival rules," the monk said.

The clash broke out in front of a troupe at the festival around midnight, when the troupe was performing an opera to a large audience. After the riot police assaulted the locals, several monks beat the unarmed officers, who later fled leaving two men behind. The monks tied the remaining two riot police to the pile that is erected at the central part of the festival.

The riot police are reportedly from Riot Regiment No. 13 from Maungdaw, and had come to the festival to watch the troupe perform.

A witness who attended the festival said, "The incident took place when Shwe Rada Na Troupe presented an opera. When the clash happened, the festival was disordered but the monks regained control with the help of the normal police forces."

The festival is held for 100 young boys to become novice monks at 3 Mile Ward in Maungdaw, and about 200 monks from around Maungdaw Township attended the festival.

According to a source, the two riot police personnel who were restrained were handed over to police officers by senior monks in the early morning. There has been no retaliation by the riot police against the monks since the incident.

Tobida, a monk who was attending the festival said. "We monks are not guilty in the incident because the monks attacked the riot police for their misbehavior. If monks did not attack the riot police, it would have been impossible to continue the festival peacefully."

Most people at the festival supported the monks actions against the riot police, who had abused the festival rules and insulted people after drinking. Buddhist people in Arakan State traditionally obey monks' instructions because they are respected as religious leaders.

Monks in Burma are religiously not allowed to be counter-attacked or insulted by ordinary people, including government officials such as army, police, or riot police officers.

Ref: Narinjara


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