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Yangon Universities Closed.
Yangon universities closed after student protests
YANGON -- Classes were suspended at universities here and a large
area of the city
remained sealed off yesterday following student demonstrations last
Although there was no official announcement that universities had
been closed, teachers
at campuses and security checkpoint guards were turning students
back and those
staying in university hostels were being sent home.
Droves of students, particularly females, were being picked up from
their lodgings by
parents, witnesses said.
An area of several square kilometres around the site of a major
protest on Saturday
that was broken up by riot police was firmly blockaded, with
soldiers and police
manning barbed wire-lined barricades.
The protest, which had included up to 1,000 people at its peak, was
the most serious
student action in Myanmar since 1988.
The protesters' key demand is the formation of a union -- which has
been forbidden in
Myanmar since the military took power in 1962 -- in addition to
seeking redress for
the beatings of several students by police in October.
While there were some restrictions on access to other university
campuses, only the
main campus, adjacent to the traffic intersection where students
on two occasions last week, was sealed off totally.
Lessons at high schools within the cordoned-off area had also been
schools outside remained open.
Degree-convocation ceremonies here were postponed, as were planned
following Saturday's opening of the Diamond Jubilee Hall -- a new
close to the main campus.
Morning traffic snarls jammed the city centre, with police directing
the flow of vehicles
around the periphery of the blockaded area.
From beyond the barricades, the situation appeared very quiet, with
allowed in or out.
A blockade remained in place on either side of the residence of
opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi. Access to her home has been restricted since the
early last week.
Although the protesters have not mentioned her in their chants, the
has been confined to her quarters since Saturday.
She and the students have denied having any links with each other.
But a government
spokesman said yesterday that members of her National League for
(NLD), underground communist activists and student exiles were
instigating the protests.
"We have evidence that not only some NLD members but also members of
Burma Students' Democratic Front and underground elements of the Burma
Communist Party are deeply involved in this unrest," he said.
The government had asked Ms Aung San Suu Kyi to stay away from areas
there was unrest for her own security, he said, because various
were at work.
"We don't want her to go to places where there are crowds and unrest
for her own
security," he said.
[AFP, Reuter, 10 December 1996].