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Burma's Modern Monks: The Politics of the Sangha's Pro-Democracy Movement

42 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2010  

Douglas Irvin

Division of Global Affairs

Date Written: 2010


Late in the summer of 2007, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of major cities across Burma to protest their government.1 Nearly the entire ranks of the country's monkhood embarked upon a religious boycott of the state's armed forces, walking past the Burmese military with upturned alms bowls, despite the grave consequences they all knew they would incur. The government crack down was notoriously bloody. The protest, known as the Saffron Revolution, neither promoted social reform, nor rallied a successful international response against the ruling junta, which calls itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) (Selth, 2008). Three years later, the resistance movement has faded from world headlines and the SPDC has strengthened their power over government while effectively barring opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from partaking in upcoming elections. Burma is at a crossroads, not in the least because the elections slated for the end of 2010 are widely seen as sham elections intended to solidify the military's position in power, which will test the resolve of the pro-democracy movement.

Suggested Citation

Irvin, Douglas, Burma's Modern Monks: The Politics of the Sangha's Pro-Democracy Movement (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Douglas Irvin (Contact Author)

Division of Global Affairs ( email )

180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

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