Burmese military junta is building the largest marble buddha in the world, according to the official press, while it destroyed a monument dedicated to democracy in Bago, where protests against the coup were brutally suppressed.

In the midst of the protests in which at least 783 civilians were killed by the uniformed soldiers, the head of the junta, the coup general Min Aung Hlaing, personally attended some of the ceremonies held during different phases of the construction of the Buddha in the capital, Naipyidó.

The last took place at the end of April, when he and his wife and other generals attended a ritual presided over by high-ranking monks of the Committee of the Sangha Maha Nayaka, the highest Buddhist body in the country, according to The Global New Light of Myanmar.

The Buddha, represented sitting in the lotus position,it is slated to measure 19 meters and weigh about 1,720 tons and is being built from four huge blocks of Mandalay marble that are being transported to the capital via the Irrawaddy (Ayeryawady) River.

A finished marble statue of a Buddha is left near Irrawaddy River to be transported by boat to a buyer, in Sagyin, Mandalay, Myanmar, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Wang SEARCH "SAGYIN MARBLE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.

The project, which began before the February 1 coup and will also include hostels, fountains and a museum, will cost $9 million and it has among its objectives to honor Buddhism and “guarantee the peace and tranquility of the country”, as well as attract visitors, according to the official newspaper.

The medium does not specify when the Buddha and the rest of the infrastructures will be finished.

The military, who already ruled Myanmar between 1962 and 2011, regularly donate and participate in Buddhist rituals to improve their karma, a common practice in the country, where 90% of the population profess this religion.

Giant Buddhas are common in the region, including the 45-meter-tall one built of marble-coated concrete on the Thai island of Phuket.

Burmese uniformed men are less merciful to the protesters, whom they daily repress with military weapons, and even demolished last month in the city of Bago a monument dedicated to the pro-democratic protests of 1988, according to the Irrawaddy media.

Police fire a water cannon at protesters during a demonstration against the military coup on a street in Bago, Myanmar February 9, 2021 in this screen grab taken from a social media video obtained by Reuters. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Bago, about 71 kilometers northeast of Rangoon, is one of the cities most affected by military violence against demonstrations, with 82 people killed on April 9 in one of the bloodiest days after the coup.

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