The junta knows that much of the force of its opposition comes from spiritual sources; and so it is trying to discredit and undermine those forces. When the monks are not murdered and left in a ditch, as in the harrowing photograph above, they are being forced to laicize. Global Voices Online reports:

It is considered to be a sin to just give up monkhood without valid reasons. The soldiers are trying to significantly lower their influence on people, to shame them. Democratic Voice of Burma mentioned that soldiers ordered the "most senior monk in Insein" to come over and read pali scriptures that will begin the process of "shaming the monks" to make monks change into laypersons. However, the monks, who are supposed to repeat the pali scriptures read by the senior monks, refused to repeat them and after a while, the senior monk said that he can't convert them into laypersons and that it just won't happen and refused and supposedly left.

There are reports that the soldiers are also beating the monks in Insein. When a plumber came to fix the water pipes in the place, a monk looked up to see him and a soldier is said to have hit him with his belt... There are also reports that a monk with wounds on his feet was brought to the general hospital and the soldiers ordered the doctors to not treat the monk until he converted back to a layperson. The monk then replied that he will not revert to become a layperson and preferred to die from his wounds.

This is a Stalinist attempt to extirpate religious tradition. It's despicable. The family members of murdered protesters have also been intimidated, even in instructions to attend the funerals of their beloved:

"The letter, signed by the minister of Home Affairs Thura Myint Maung, was delivered to us by [township] police chief Naing Win and it said that we are to bring our ID cards to the funeral," said a family member of Ko Htun Htun Linn. "It also said that we are not allowed to hold the traditional merit-making ceremony seven days after the death."

Totalitarianism isn't dead. And it is being visited upon the non-violent and the religious. If nothing else, please sign the petition.

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