|Monks have formed the vanguard of opposition to Myanmar’s military government [Reuters]|
Uppekha is Buddhist monk and member of the All Burma Buddhist Monks Alliance, one of the groups that has led the wave of anti-government protests in Myanmar.
Based at a monastery in the northern city of Mandalay, Uppekha said he and other monks at the monastery wanted to join the protests, but that their monastery had been surrounded by soldiers.
Speaking by telephone from inside the monastery, he told Al Jazeera of the measures the monks were calling for:
“There are three steps that we want.
“The first step is to reduce all commodity prices, fuel prices, rice and cooking oil prices immediately.
“The second step – release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and all detainees arrested during ongoing demonstrations over the fuel price hike.
“The third step – enter a dialogue with pro-democracy forces for national reconciliation immediately, to resolve the crisis and difficulties facing and suffered by the people.
Uppekha said he had expected more help from the UN and emphasised that all the protests had been peaceful.
He said: “We have a chance to create our own rights. We have a chance to create our own freedom.
“We are peaceful demonstrators but the government is taking this violent crackdown. We are suffering violence from a military junta.
“We dont understand why the UN aren’t helping us. They are just talking, talking, blowing in the wind.”