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Civil Unrest Explodes in Burma
- Subject: Civil Unrest Explodes in Burma
- From: FreeBurma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 09 Dec 1996 08:31:00
.c The Associated Press
By PATRICK McDOWELL
Associated Press Writer
RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Riot police wielding batons chased protesting students
through the streets Monday and the military government closed universities
after the largest demonstration of civil unrest since the 1988 democracy
Military intelligence accused Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of
inciting the student unrest and confined her to her home Monday.
``We have told her that there are evidences of (her party's) involvement,
underground communist activity and incitement by the exiled All Burma Student
Democratic Front during the recent student unrest,'' said Col. Hla Min of
Both the students and Suu Kyi have denied any links. Burma's communist party
collapsed in 1989.
Following a protest march and sit-in by students Friday night, traffic police
sealed off roads leading to all three campuses of Rangoon University, while
riot police set up barbed wire barricades to blockade the Rangoon Institute
Students weren't bowed by the show of force, and about 150 began
demonstrating in front of a campus three miles north of downtown Rangoon.
Some shouted slogans and sat in front of the locked main gate.
At midday, about 250 students began marching down Kyimyindine Road toward the
U.S. Embassy in downtown, picking up a few hundred people along the way.
They held aloft portraits of Gen. Aung San, the country's independence leader
and father of Aung San Suu Kyi, while shouting ``Give us freedom,'' ``We are
united,'' and ``Open the schools.''
People in cars passed food and water to the students, while others, including
employees of the state power company, applauded from windows.
``This is an unfair government,'' said one student who wore a shirt with a
peace symbol. ``We want our own student council. We want our schools open.''
A phalanx of 100 riot police took positions on the road to block the
marchers' route to the embassy, which had been a focal point of protests
during the nationwide democracy uprising of 1988.
University professors appealed to students who had sat down in the road to
turn back and avoid a possible violent confrontation.
The sit-in lasted about two minutes before students rose and once again
walked toward the embassy.
But riot police armed with shields and batons began a steady march straight
toward the students, who then turned and fled back up Kyimyindine Road and
into side streets.
The police pursued, and students began throwing rocks as they approached.
Police then began chasing journalists. About 10 troop carriers with 30 to 40
soldiers aboard each of them approached Kyimyindine Road.
Military authorities had hoped that closing down universities would choke off
student protests, following a violent melee between riot police and about
1,500 students armed with sticks and stones early Saturday morning.
The police were breaking up a sit-in by students demanding an end to police
brutality, the right to form a student union, greater freedom and respect for
The confrontation was the strongest show of civil dissent since 1988, when a
tea shop brawl between Rangoon Institute of Technology students and the son
of a government official set off a nationwide uprising against decades of
repressive military rule.
Burma's military government crushed the uprising, gunning down more than
3,000 protesters, jailing thousands more and closing all universities and
high schools for three years.
Students who tried to approach their schools this morning were met at the
barricades by university professors who informed them of the closure. Most
students left the area peacefully, but some stayed on to watch from nearby