Protester burns himself at Myanmar pagoda - Emirates24|7

Protester burns himself at Myanmar pagoda


An unidentified man apparently suffering from economic hardship in military-ruled Myanmar has set himself ablaze in the country's historic Shwedagon Pagoda, witnesses said on Sunday.

The man in his 30s did not shout anti-government slogans, but complained about difficulties in his life and the rising cost of living, before setting himself ablaze on Friday's Tabaung Full Moon Day, a significant religious day for Buddhists, witnesses said.

"It was about 8:40 when he poured petrol on his body and ignited himself with fire from a candle," a woman who was among hundreds of worshippers at the pagoda that night, told Reuters. "There was chaos when some eyewitness shouted that there was a fire."

Security is generally tight at the pagoda, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in the capital of the former Burma and guards and police quickly closed the gates of the pagoda for about a half-hour, she said.

The pagoda has been a focal point in previous political uprisings, including last year's pro-democracy demonstrations. A sharp spike in fuel prices sparked the biggest protests in 20 years last August and September, with tens of thousands of monks and civilian demonstrating in Yangon and other cities.

The rallies prompted a brutal crackdown on protesters, in which the United Nations says at least 31 were killed.

A government medical source told Reuters the man had burns on 70 per cent of his body and was being treated in a Yangon hospital, but declined to give further details.

The opposition National League for Democracy said the protester was not one of its members. (Reuters)