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1,000 Burmese Students Stage Protes

Subject: 1,000 Burmese Students Stage Protest

*** 1,000 Burmese Students Stage Protest ***
   RANGOON, Burma (AP) _ About 1,000 students demonstrated Monday
in front of Rangoon University in the largest such protest in
years, demanding that Burma's military government grant more
student independence and probe police brutality.
   Security forces were not immediately deployed to observe or
break up the peaceful demonstration, a possible sign that the
government hoped to avoid a potentially explosive confrontation.
   No link between the protest and the democracy movement led by
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was apparent. But it came
a day before the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council's
monthly news conference, usually a time opponents step up
activities to coincide with the arrival of foreign journalists.
   ``We are the students, we are united,'' chanted the protesters,
mostly from the Rangoon Institute of Technology.
   After marching three kilometers (two miles) to the university,
they staged a sit-in that half-closed University Avenue, the street
where Suu Kyi lives. Traffic was very disorderly.
   ``We will go back only when our demands are met,'' said Myo
Aung, 24, an engineering student.
   The crowd was twice the size of a peaceful student protest Oct.
21 _ the first major one in years _ against brutality by police who
allegedly beat three students following a dispute with a restaurant
   The demonstrators Monday demanded that the authorities announce
what, if any, action has been taken against the police involved and
that students expelled after the October protest be reinstated.
   That protest had been called off only when authorities promised
to take action against the police.
   The demonstrators demanded the formation of a student committee
to handle student affairs, which could be viewed by the authorities
as dangerously independent.
   They also wanted authorities to investigate recent leaflets
mailed to students calling the October protesters troublemakers.
The leaflets were signed by a hitherto unknown group _ almost
certainly fronted by the government _ called ``Students Who Desire
to Pursue Their Education Peacefully.''
   The regime detained one of Suu Kyi's top deputies, Kyi Maung,
for more than a week after the October demonstration on suspicion
of colluding with the protesters. Kyi Maung denied the accusations.
   Burma's military rulers keep a close eye on students, who have
been quiet in recent years but are traditionally at the vanguard of
political change.
   A quarrel between students at the Rangoon Institute of
Technology and local villagers led to the pro-democracy uprising of
   Troops killed thousands of people to put down the uprising. The
protests propelled Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero Aung San,
to the leadership of Burma's pro-democracy movement.
   The regime has stepped up repression of her movement in recent
months. A mob allegedly controlled by the government attacked Suu
Kyi's car Nov. 9 with iron bars. She was unhurt.
   Roadblocks erected by the government since late September have
stopped the once-customary weekend political rallies by thousands
of supporters outside her home.
021117 Dec GMT