Monks flee temples in eastern Myanmar amid intense fighting | Daily News

Monks flee temples in eastern Myanmar amid intense fighting

Buddhist monks are revered in Myanmar and temples are considered safe havens.
Buddhist monks are revered in Myanmar and temples are considered safe havens.

MYANMAR: Hundreds of Buddhist monks fled two major towns in Myanmar, a witness said on Sunday, among thousands recently displaced by intense fighting between the military and rebel groups opposed to last year’s coup.

A military power-grab 11 months ago expelled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government with mass protests and subsequent crackdowns killing more than 1,400 — as dozens of rebel groups sprang up to oppose the regime. Loikaw town — in eastern Myanmar’s Kayah state — saw intense fighting last week and the United Nations estimates that almost 90,000 people have fled, with local NGO’s placing that figure far higher at 1,70,000.

“More than half the population of Loikaw township has been internally displaced,” the UN said, with even the holy men of the town scattering as the fighting raged. “It was impossible for us to stay there,” said one Buddhist monk, adding around 30 monasteries were fleeing — an unusual sight in a nation where they are revered and temples are considered safe havens.

The monk, among the roughly 5,000 people who have fled to eastern Shan state, said that 12 monasteries in nearby Demoso town had also emptied.

- FRANCE 24


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