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Monks ‘too scared to protest’ as Burma leader General Than Shwe visits Sri Lanka – Times Online

[Times Online UK, Saturday, 14 November 2009 08:54 No Comment]

Kandy Dancers, drummers and costumed elephants greeted General Than Shwe as the normally reclusive leader of Burma’s junta began a Buddhist pilgrimage in Sri Lanka.

Schoolchildren cheered and waved flags of both countries as the motorcade inched through the narrow streets of the central Buddhist pilgrimage city of Kandy — but, away from the spectacle, exiled monks forced to flee the repressive Burmese regime expressed anger over the visit and warned Colombo that its increasingly close relations with the regime would raise international concern further over the island’s human rights record. A spokesman for the monks, who identified himself as Nyanasyri, said that they had decided not to stage any demonstration out of fears for their safety.

General Than Shwe, who has looked frail since arriving on Thursday, had earlier spoken of the “history of close Buddhist ties” between his country and Sri Lanka during a meeting with the Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama.

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962 and the regime stands accused of numerous human rights violations, including the repression of monks, journalists and political opponents — most notably the pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

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