Five Buddhist monks launched a rare protest inside a famous temple in Myanmar's second-largest city on Tuesday, calling on the military-aligned government to immediately release political prisoners, residents said.
The monks locked themselves inside a museum at Maha Myatmuni pagoda in central Mandalay city for several hours before heading out in a car to a nearby monastery to continue the protest, said Ni Ni Tun, a 35-year-old resident who was contacted by telephone.
She said the monks hung banners with slogans in both Burmese and English on the wall of the pagoda that read "Free all political prisoners" and "We want freedom." Some 300 Mandalay residents including monks gathered outside the compound to watch the protest and some brought food for the protesters, she said.
Protests are rare in Myanmar, where dissent has been suppressed by a military junta that was in power from 1962 until earlier this year. It transferred control to a nominally civilian government led by a former general which has promised to liberalize politics, but continues to hold about 2,000 political prisoners.