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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 September 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Burma anti-junta protests spread
Burma's rulers fear they may appear weak if protests continue

Thousands of monks have taken to the streets of Burma in a sixth day of anti-military government protests.

Two thousand monks went on the march in Mandalay, while at least 1,000 rallied in Rangoon. Protests were also taking place in five townships across Burma.

It comes a day after the leaders of the demonstrations vowed to continue until the military government collapsed.

They want the Burmese people to pray in their doorways for 15 minutes at 2000 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

In Rangoon, the monks converged on Burma's most revered temple, the Shwedagon Pagoda, before continuing their march watched by plain clothes security officials.

In Mandalay, a monastic centre of Buddhist learning, they marched peacefully through the Payagyi district.

There were also demonstrations on Saturday in the townships of Chauk, Shwebo, Mongwa, Taung Dwin Gyi and Ye Nan Chaung.

There were no reports of any violence.

'Enemy of the people'

BBC South Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says many of the devotees held their begging bowls upside down as a symbol of anti-government protest.

The problem for Burma's rulers is that they are reluctant to confront the publicly revered monks for fear of enraging the people, our correspondent says, but the longer they allow the demonstrations to go on, the weaker they look.

Shwedagon pagoda

The protests began last month when the government doubled fuel prices.

But they have taken on new momentum this week since the religious order became more widely involved.

On Friday, the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks branded Burma's military rulers "the enemy of the people".

The organisation pledged to continue their peaceful demonstrations until they had "wiped the military dictatorship from the land".

Some 1,500 monks took to the streets of Rangoon on Friday in protest at recent government attempts to silence critics.

Diplomats at the United Nations have expressed concern at the crisis.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has pledged to raise the situation in the former British colony at the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

The monks' protests began on Monday but gathered pace on Tuesday, after the expiration of a deadline issued by them demanding a government apology for earlier violence.

They have also been withholding religious duties from anyone connected with the military.

The movement has turned into the largest public show of opposition to the Burmese authorities since the uprising of 1988.

BBC exclusive: a rare insight into Burmese life

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