Nationalists plan Nay Pyi Taw protests against religion minister


NAY PYI TAW — An assortment of nationalist activists from across the country are planning to descend on the capital tomorrow to protest what they allege is Religious Affairs Minister Thura U Aung Ko’s “oppression” of Buddhism and the monkhood.

The demonstration, which will be addressed by controversial newspaper publisher and former lawmaker ‘Bullet’ Hla Swe along with an assortment of nationalist figures, comes after a wave of arrests of activists in Yangon following a heated confrontation with Muslim residents in Mingalar Taung Nyunt last week.

Ahead of the next Union Peace Conference, set to commence Wednesday, authorities have permitted the demonstration but imposed restrictions on the use of some slogans and ordered the protest to conclude within two hours.

Demonstrators had requested authorities allow the presence of 30,000 people at the permitted protest site, the Shwe Nant Tar football stadium in Ottarathiri Township, but local police ordered attendance numbers capped at 300.

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Most nationalist protests in recent years, largely held in Yangon, have typically attracted no more than 200-300 people.

While the protest will go ahead, U Sandar Thiri, the Mandalay secretary of the Myanmar Patriotic Monks Union, said he and other activists travelling to Nay Pyi Taw for the protest had been “pressured” by authorities to stay away from the capital.

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