Feature

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Det sier noe om hvor dypt båndet mellom folk og munker stikker i Burma: da de militære omringet klostre og pagoder, kom folket munkene til unnsetning og omringet de militære.

Det endte til sist med at de militære trakk det lengst strået. Men det må ha vært en skremmende opplevelse for de militære at folk ikke lot seg skremme, men omringet dem ubevæpnet.

Akkurat det samme skjedde i Kina etter nedslaktingen av studenter på Den himmelske freds plass i juni 1989. Studentaktivister på flukt ble spontant gjemt av folk eller fikk hjelp til å unnslippe politiets jakt.

Det hadde gått rykter om at folk møtte frem for å beskytte munkene. The Times møtte to som personlig hadde vært vitner til at det skjedde:
To the handful of surviving monks at Ngwe Kya Yan monastery —bruised, scared and in shock — it must have seemed that everything was over. In the early hours of that morning, the soldiers and police had made their first swoop, cracking skulls, firing rubber bullets and dragging away more than 70 Buddhist monks to secret detention centres.

A handful had escaped by scrambling over the walls and into the surrounding township, and returned at daybreak to their smashed and looted monastery, the blood of their brothers still glistening on the stone of the courtyard.

Later that afternoon, the soldiers and police returned to take away the rest.

At that point something remarkable happened. From the simple houses of South Okkalopa township, men, women and children emerged, thousands of them, converging on the narrow streets leading up to the monastery — and trapped the soldiers and police inside.

For more than six hours, the unarmed crowd prevented the security forces taking the monks away – until they were dispersed in a one-sided street battle that reportedly left at least two people shot dead.

It was a scene that was repeated at monasteries and pagodas across Rangoon. At the nearby Kyaik Ka San pagoda, at Moe Kaung pagoda and at Mahar Bawdi monastery, local people risked their lives defending the monks against arrest. In the end, all appear to have been unsuccessful, but the remarkable risks that they took demonstrate the depth of popular affection for the monks and the continuing loathing for the junta, despite its success in quelling last week’s «Saffron Revolution».

Story emerges of the Burmese heroes who died trying to protect monks