A leading member of Burma's military junta has said the mounting protests being led by the country's monks are being organised by "internal and external destructive elements".
The monks have vowed to continue their action
Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung, minister for religious affairs, was quoted by state-owned Burma radio. The following are key excerpts from the speech:
"Please allow me to present the truth about a series of events that are taking place in Myanmar (Burma).
"A group of people - with ill-intentions - inside and outside the country, who are committing destructive acts, have continuously been instigating the people politically in recent days".
"This is happening because a group of internal and external destructive elements - who are envious of Myanmar that is peaceful, tranquil, and developing - are planning and creating the above-mentioned situation to destroy every government effort by various means".
"The current protest marches on the streets that are taking place in the country are systematically planned and executed from abroad".
"For their own benefit, the internal and external destructive groups have disregarded the religion and instigated young monks who are learning at monasteries to come on the streets".
"The number of monks on the streets seems large as they have gathered in one place. Actually, they represent not even 2% of the total monk population".
"The majority - more than 98% - of the monks want to nicely carry on with their religious activities. The things that they (destructive elements) want to do, they do it through the young monks by instructing them through foreign news media".
"The worst thing is that they (young monks) have refused to listen to the senior monks who have been teaching and feeding them, providing accommodation to them, and living with them for years".
"They have been totally listening to the internal and external destructive elements, the BBC, the VOA, the RFA (Radio Free Asia), and the DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma) whom they have never seen before nor benefited from them".
"Although the destructive elements are saying that the fuel and commodity prices are high and people are facing hardship, an increase in the fuel price may cause a small temporary hardship to the people, but it could not have created a severe hardship".