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Yangon detains 300 after biggest pr

Subject: Yangon detains 300 after biggest protest in years.

	Yangon detains 300 after biggest protest in years 

     YANGON -- The Myanmar government said it had held briefly hundreds 
of students
     yesterday after they staged night-long street protests in the 
capital Yangon, the biggest
     such demonstrations in several years. 

     Witnesses earlier said that up to 300 student demonstrators were 
taken away just
     before sunrise in police trucks when they refused to disperse 
following an overnight
     march through central Yangon in the early hours of the morning. 

     The government said the students had been released after their 
identities were checked.

     "They were not detained or made to face any charges. They were 
simply held briefly to
     sort out whether they were real students or infiltrators," said a 
spokesman for the ruling
     State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc). 

     "After paper checks, they were sent back to their school and hostels 
because we want
     them to continue their peaceful studies," he told reporters after 
the monthly Slorc press
     briefing yesterday. 

     Colonel Kyaw Win, deputy intelligence chief for Slorc, also said in 
response to
     questions that the demonstrations were instigated by a political 
party with the intent to
     discredit the ruling regime. "There was a plot to stage a combined 
     between the students and outsiders to discredit the government by a 
political party
     which is against Myanmar's close relations with Asean," he said. 

     Those held briefly were part of a group of 400 who had gathered near 
the central
     Shwe Dagon pagoda after a march that began at the Yangon Institute 
of Technology
     (YIT) and moved on into the heart of the capital early yesterday. 
The protest began on
     Monday when some 1,500 students, protesting against police handling 
of a brawl in
     October between three YIT students and restaurant owners, marched 
from YIT to
     Yangon University. 

     By the early hours of yesterday, the protest had moved to the heart 
of the capital. 

     Witnesses said those detained had refused an order to disperse when 
cornered by
     police near the pagoda. 

     The Slorc spokesman said the genuine students had been joined by 

     "As soon as they moved out of the campus to the streets, they were 
joined by political
     agitators," he said. 

     On Oct 21 and 22, about 500 YIT students had staged a sit-in strike, 
complaining of
     unfair treatment as they said the three students involved in the 
October brawl were
     arrested and reportedly beaten up by police on Oct 20. 

     The latest street protests began with a sit-in at the YIT on Monday. 

     The students have stepped up their demands and called on the 
authorities to release all
     students in prisons, and defied a 34-year-old government ban, 
declaring that they have
     set up their own student union. 

     This was the second demonstration involving YIT students in less 
than two months. 

     The students said they were also protesting against leaflets 
distributed on their
     campuses by people claiming to be students urging their classmates 
to improve their
     behaviour and not to get involved in activities that could disrupt 
their studies. 

     Monday night's street protests were the worst since the 1988 student-led
     pro-democracy uprisings but there were no reports of violence. 

     Meanwhile, the military yesterday shut down the road leading to the 
home of
     pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she and more than 20 
associates were
     prevented from leaving her home by security forces, sources close to 
her said. --

[StraitsTimes, 4 December 1996].