RANGOON, Burma - More than 100 Buddhist monks marched peacefully yesterday in a northern Burma town noted for its defiance of the country's military rulers, the first large protest since the junta violently crushed a wave of antigovernment demonstrations.
The monks marched for nearly an hour in the town of Pakokku, chanting a Buddhist prayer that has come to be associated with the prodemocracy cause.
They did not carry signs or shout slogans, but their action was clearly in defiance of the military government, as one monk spelled out in a radio interview.
"We are continuing our protest from last month as we have not yet achieved any of the demands we asked for," the monk told the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based short-wave radio station and website run by dissident journalists.
"Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and immediate release of [pro-democracy leader] Aung San Suu Kyi and all the political prisoners," said the monk, who was not identified.
He said they had little time to organize the march so it was small.
But "there will be more organized and bigger protests soon," he promised.
After marching without interference, the monks returned to their respective monasteries, two of those who took part said in telephone interviews.
Pakokku, a center for Buddhist learning with more than 80 monasteries about 390 miles northwest of the commercial center Rangoon, was the scene of one of the first of the recent antigovernment marches by monks on their own.
Troops fired in the air to break up the Sept. 5 march, and allowed members of progovernment associations to kick and beat several monks. The following day, the irate young monks took several officials hostage for several hours and demanded an apology, a cause that rallied other monks around the country to join the burgeoning marches in the weeks that followed.