Suu Kyi greets Burma protesters

Other News Materials 22 September 2007 19:02 (UTC +04:00)

( BBC ) - Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has greeted Buddhist monks protesting against the military junta.

Apparently unable to hold her tears, Aung San Suu Kyi came out of the house she has been detained in since 2003 as the monks were let through a roadblock.

At least 2,000 monks are staging a sixth day of protests through the streets of the main city of Rangoon.

Up to 10,000 marched through Mandalay with protests also taking place in five townships across Burma.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the last 18 years in detention.

In 1990 her party won national elections, but these were annulled by the army and she was never allowed to take office.

Her latest period of house arrest began in May 2003.

Government fears

The area around University Avenue where Ms Suu Kyi's house is located has been closed to traffic since the wave of protests began.

But in what appears to be an unprecedented move, the guards allowed the monks to walk past the home.

Witnesses said Ms Suu Kyi walked out with two other women and cried as she watched the monks and prayed with them but did not speak.

The leaders of the demonstrations have vowed to continue until the collapse of the military government.

They want the Burmese people to pray in their doorways for 15 minutes at 2000 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Before being allowed to go pass the jailed opposition leader's house in Rangoon, the monks converged on Burma's most revered temple, the Shwedagon Pagoda, watched by plain clothes security officials.

In Mandalay, a monastic centre of Buddhist learning, they marched peacefully through the Payagyi district.

There were also demonstrations on Saturday in the townships of Chauk, Shwebo, Mongwa, Taung Dwin Gyi and Ye Nan Chaung.

There were no reports of any violence.

Reluctance and fear

BBC South Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says this is the most serious challenge yet to the Burmese military government.

The problem for Burma's rulers is that they are reluctant to confront the publicly revered monks for fear of enraging the people, but the longer they allow the demonstrations to go on, the weaker they look, our correspondent says

The protests began last month when the government doubled fuel prices.

But they have taken on new momentum this week since the religious order became more widely involved.

On Friday, the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks branded Burma's military rulers "the enemy of the people".

The organisation pledged to continue their peaceful demonstrations until they had "wiped the military dictatorship from the land".

The movement has turned into the largest public show of opposition to the Burmese authorities since the uprising of 1988.