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October 27, 2007

Protest leaders in Myanmar fled to Thailand

A main principal of the protest movements led by Buddhist monks in Myanmar successfully fled to Thailand wearing a disguise.

Ashin Kovida, 24, said he fled to Thailand recently wearing a crucifix, blond hair and using false identification papers. He planned to file for refugee status there, the International Herald Tribune reported.

Kovida spoke of the movement in a six-hour interview, saying that eight of the 15 monks who spearheaded the protests in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, were missing.

The monks were protesting various human rights abuses perpetrated by the military government in Yangon, formally known as Rangoon, as well as rising consumer prices. Shots fired at monks on Sept. 5 escalated the protests.

Monks nominated Kovida and several others to lead the group, called the Sangga Kosahial Apahwe, or Monks Representatives Group, the International Herald Tribune report said.

The state run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, alleged Kovida hid “48 yellowish high-explosive TNT cartridges” in his monastery.

The government crackdown on the monks sparked widespread international condemnation. “It’s a stain on the history of Burma,” Kovida said.

Courtesy UPI

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