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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
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
Colonel Kyaw Win, deputy intelligence chief for Slorc, also said in
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
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
Shwe Dagon pagoda after a march that began at the Yangon Institute
(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
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
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,
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
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
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she and more than 20
prevented from leaving her home by security forces, sources close to
her said. --
[StraitsTimes, 4 December 1996].