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Burma Students Dispersed
- Subject: Burma Students Dispersed
- From: FreeBurma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 07 Dec 1996 19:36:00
.c The Associated Press
RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Burmese authorities broke up an overnight street
demonstration early Saturday, turning fire engine hoses on hundreds of
students protesting police brutality.
The demonstration continued the biggest wave of street protests since Burma's
military regime used troops to crush a 1988 pro-democracy uprising. It was
the third spearheaded by engineering students from the Rangoon Institute of
Technology since October and the second in the week.
About 2,000 people -- students and onlookers -- attended the main protest
Friday night near Rangoon University. The area was sealed off to the public
for several hours by hundreds of police equipped with shields and truncheons.
There were scattered demonstrations elsewhere in the capital.
The protests, stemming from the police beating of three students in a dispute
with a food-stall owner, mark the boldest dissent in years against the
military, which has ruled Burma since 1962.
Several major intersections near the main protest site protest remained
blocked by authorities today.
Police arrested 264 people two hours before dawn, said an official speaking
on condition his name not be used. Some were apparently released by
The main demonstration, which began with protesters sitting down in the
street, turned to violence late in the night, said local residents who
witnessed the events.
Rock-throwing broke out between students and police, with local youths also
harassing security forces, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of
Authorities turned fire engines hoses on the rock throwers, but later also
sprayed nonviolent protesters, they said.
A reporter for Japan's Yomiuri newspaper was beaten and detained by security
personnel, his newspaper said Saturday. Another reporter for the newspaper
was pulled from his car and beaten Tuesday.
Police had moved quickly Friday to stop the demonstration before it started,
sealing off roads with fire trucks outside the Rangoon Institute of
Technology as 100 students tried to leave, apparently for the university a
mile away, where all the protests have been staged.
The protest began in the afternoon and at times numbered 600 students sitting
in the intersection, plus perhaps 1,500 onlookers.
The demonstrators had earlier rejected entreaties by their professors to
leave peacefully. One student held aloft a picture of independence hero Aung
San, father of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The students' main demands have been the creation of an independent student
council and disclosure of police brutality, but political demands for freedom
and human rights have seeped in, mirroring the campaign led by Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has voiced support and said
the students share her opposition to injustice. But she has denied the
regime's claims that the students' actions are orchestrated by her political
party, the National League for Democracy.
The regime increasingly has cracked down on Suu Kyi in recent months.
Suu Kyi was launched to international prominence by the 1988 uprising. The
government that seized power placed her under years of house arrest without
trial before releasing her in 1995.
Suu Kyi's supporters won elections in 1990, but the government never allowed
the elected parliament to convene.