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Burma-unrest,2ndlead : Burma disrob

Subject: Burma-unrest,2ndlead : Burma disrobes monks,                             detains NLD members in wake of unrest


                            Burma-unrest,2ndlead : Burma disrobes monks,
                            detains NLD members in wake of unrest

                            (ADDS background, name of elected NLD candidate
in detention)

                            RANGOON, April 1 (AFP) - Burmese authorities
disrobed 150
                            monks and detained 10 members of Aung San Suu
Kyi's National
                            League for Democracy (NLD) in the wake of
communal unrest in
                            Mandalay, a resident of the city said Tuesday.

                            Buddhist monks in the central Burmese city have
vandalized 12
                            mosques and other Moslem properties since
communal unrest
                            broke out there in the middle of last month, the
resident told AFP
                            during a visit to Rangoon.

                            The NLD members detained included nine
organizers and Htin
                            Gyaw, who was elected representative of east
Mandalay in
                            nationwide elections which swept the party in
1990 into a
                            parliament never convened by the military

                            Burmese and NLD officials could not immediately
be reached for

                            A dusk-to-dawn curfew remained in effect in
Mandalay, where the
                            attacks on mosques and Moslem property began
more than two
                            weeks ago in apparent retribution for an alleged
sexual assault on
                            a Buddhist girl. 

                            The junta has blamed the unrest on unnamed
political agitators
                            seeking to destabilise the country and sabotage
its likely entry into
                            the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) later this year.

                            ASEAN groups three predominantly Islamic
countries -- Brunei,
                            Indonesia and Malaysia -- with the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand
                            and Vietnam. 

                            Analysts and opposition sources inside and
outside the country
                            have said the attacks may be an expression by
monks of
                            discontent with the ruling military.

                            Burmese authorities were reported to have
quashed attempts by
                            younger monks in Mandalay prior to the outbreak
of unrest to
                            arrange demonstrations protesting the death of
16 of their number
                            in prison camps.

                            The military has also been accused of damaging
the buddha at the
                            city's Payagyi Pagoda, searching for a legendary
ruby which
                            supposedly brings victory in war to its possessor.

                            The pagoda and the city's central market were
closed following
                            the initial attacks, but have since been
reopened. Religious
                            examinations scheduled for this week in Mandalay
and in the
                            capital have been cancelled.

                            The unrest spread from Mandalay first to
Rangoon, then to several
                            other cities. 

                            There was a report of fresh unrest in Sittwe in
the Arakan state
                            bordering Bangladesh, but this could not be
confirmed. With a
                            high Moslem population, the state has
historically been a hotbed
                            of religious tension.

                            Arakan was also one of the areas in which
opposition groups have
                            accused the military government of excavating
historic pagodas to
                            loot valuables, ancient Buddha images and relics
in the guise of

                            Sittwe, Mandalay and Rangoon are three of the
five cities
                            reportedly put under a first degree security
alert by authorities to
                            prevent the troubles spreading further. 

                            Security remained high around mosques and some
                            monasteries in Rangoon, although the situation
has calmed from
                            the previous week, residents said. 

                            Moslems were on guard inside mosques in downtown
                            and government security forces remained posted
                            mosques and monasteries, but no further attacks
had been
                            reported as of late Tuesday. 

                            Residents in Rangoon said Buddhist monks who
believed they
                            have been made scapegoats for the troubles
remained restless.
                            There were suspicions that people outside the
monkhood have
                            been donning robes and provoking the unrest. 

                            Security is stiffest around monasteries in close
proximity to
                            mosques. Some monasteries are preventing young
monks from
                            leaving at night, they said. 

                            The Burmese government has cancelled its monthly
                            briefing for foreign journalists "due to
unforseen circumstances."