[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Riot police halt Rangoon student ra
Subject: Riot police halt Rangoon student rally.
Riot police halt Rangoon student rally
Riot police rounded up hundreds of demonstrating students outside
Rangoon's holiest shrine at dawn yesterday and blocked access to the home
of prodemocracy leader Ms Aung San Suu Kyi after a night-long protest
critical of the military regime.
About 150 heavily armed police pushed and pulled the students on
to trucks at the southern gate of the Shewdagon Pagoda, where they had
been blocked from going any further after a night of sit-ins and marching
around the Burmese capital.
It did not immediately appear that the students offered
resistance or were beaten. No police mounted the trucks that carried them
away, presumably back to their campues. Reporters that had followed the
protest through the night were ordered to leave.
Burmese authorities said later that the capital in years, twice
the size of a demonstration in October sparked by the police beating of
several students following a dispute with a food stall owner.
It was targeted at police brutality and was largely a political.
The latest demonstration, however, showed clear political
overtones critical of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council,
Some students carried banners saying, "We Want Freedom" and "Give
Us Human Rights".
There was no immediate apparent link between the protest and
Nobel peace prize winner Ms Suu Kyi, leader of the south-east Asian
country's prodemocracy movement.
The demonstration began early on Monday afternoon when about 1000
students from the Rangoon Institute of Technology marched to Rangoon
University and staged a sit-in that severly disrupted traffic on
University Avenue, the street where Ms Suu Kyi lives.
They presenteda list to officials demanding a complete report
into the October police beating; an independent student council to
present their interests; release of students arrest after the October
protests; and an investigation into an apparently government-organised
propaganda campaign against them.
Student leaders vowed to continue the vigil through the night
until their demands were met. However, several students heeded the pleas
of university officials not to provoke a police response and left the
protest at nightfall.
Their erstwhile comrades jeered, "Traitors! Traitors!" Meanwhile,
onlookers brought food and water to the protesters.
Yet no police were deployed on the scene to observe or disperse
the crowd, a possible sign that the regime fears igniting a potentially
explosive clash that could lead to wider unrest.
Shortly after midnight, the remaining 800 students marched to
down-town Rangoon, stopping frequently to rest on a 15 km trek that took
them to the US Embassy. They chanted slogans releated mainly to their
demands and left.
Their numbers dwindled to about 300, they retraced their steps
and headed back toward University Aveneue. About 150 riot police blocked
them from taking any turn that would have brought them to Ms Suu Kyi's home.
They eventually reached the southern gate of the Shwetagon
Pagoda, the gold-plated monument that dominates the Rangoon skyline.
Police sealed off rouths to stop them going any further and
officials from the education ministry and university urged them to
disperse by mounting university-provided trucks to go home.
The students refused and jeered officials who warned them against
being used by a political party, a clear reference to Ms Suu Kyi and her
National League for Democracy. Police eventually intervened and forced
them on to trucks.
The demonstration preceded a scheduled monthly news conference
that was to be held late yerterday by SLORC officials, normally a time
the opposition steps up activities to benefit from the presence of
Following the October protest, authorities detained Mr Kyi Maung,
a top deputy to Ms Suu Kyi, for a week and accused the pro-democracy
movement of colluding with the students.
The two protests have been the first sign in years that Burma's
normally volatile students are stirring from dormancy following the
anti-government protests of 1988, strated by Rangoon Institute of
Technology students clashing with some villagers.
The military, which has ruled Burma since 1962, sent troops to
crush the uprising, killing thousands. Ms Suu Kyi, daughter of Burma's
independence hero, Sung San, rose to the leadership of the democracy
movement and has become a defiant symbol of her country worldwide.
[AP, Reuters, 4 December 1996].