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Hundereds held as student protests

Subject: Hundereds held as student protests shake Rangoon.

		Hundreds held as student protests shake Rangoon

	Burmese security forces detained hundreds of people early today 
after breaking up the biggest anti-government protests in Rangoon for 
almost a decade.

	The arrests came after a day and night of marches and sit-in 
protests that drew several thousand students and workers on the streets 
of the capital in defiance of the ruling military regime.

	The demostrations, which began as a student campus protest but 
grew into a strident democracy demonstration, ended at dawn when more 
than 200 troops and riot police confronted the marchers outside the 
sacred Shwetagon Pagoda in the heart of Rangoon.

	Witnesses said several hundred protesters were rounded up and 
driven away in police trucks. Unconfirmed reports said dozens of students 
were beaten as they tried to flee.

	Police later sealed off access to the home of democracy leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi in an apparent attempt to stop supporters rallying 
outside the house, where she was scheduled to hold an afternoon news 

	A spokesman for the ruling State Law and Order Restoration 
Council said late today that none of the detainees was still being held.

	"They were not detained or faced any charges. They were simply 
held briefly to sort out whether they were real students or 
infiltrators," the spokesman said.

	"After paper checks, they were sent back to their school and 
hostels because we want them to continue their peaceful studies."

	But Rangoon-based observers said the protests, which came after 
weeks of growing political tensions in Burma, had shaken the regime.

	Similar student-based protests in 1988 sparked a mass democracy 
uprising that ended with a brutal crackdown in which at least several 
thousand people were killed.

	The latest protest began yesterday afternoon when about 200 
students, angered by the Government's response to a brawl in late October 
at a local restaurant, staged a sit-in at the Rangoon Institute of 

	After authorities rejected their demands for the reinstatement of 
two students suspended after the brawl, the protesters marched five 
kilometers to the gates of Rangoon University where they were joined by 
about 3000 other students.

	Later last night about 1000 of the students led a procession into 
the city's central business district.

	Witness said many residents joined the protester.

	Marchers waved banners demanding a return to democratic rule.

[By Mark Baker, South-East Asia corresponded, Bangkok, Tuesday, 3 
December 1996].