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Authorities shut down Burmese unive

Subject: Authorities shut down Burmese universities (The Asian Age, 10/12/96.)

Authorities shut down Burmese universities 
The Asian Age, 10/12/96.
Rangoon, Dec. 9: Burma's military government shut down 
classes at universities urn Monday following a weekend clash 
between student protesters and riot police that marked the 
largest demonstration of civil unrest since the democracy 
uprising of 1988. 
Following a protest march and sit-in by students on Friday 
night, traffic police sealed off roads leading to the three 
campuses of Rangoon University, while riot police set up 
barbed wire barricades to blockade the Rangoon Institute of 
Technology. Students who tried to approach their schools on 
Monday morning were met at the barricades by university 
professors who informed them of the closure. 
The military government made no official announcement that 
classes would be suspended. The government did not say when 
schools would reopen. Most students left the area peacefully, 
but some stayed on to watch from nearby tea shops. The 
clampdown on campuses came on the heels of a violent melee 
between riot police and students armed with sticks and stones 
early Saturday morning. 
The police were breaking up an all-night sit-in by students who 
were demanding an end to police brutality, the right to form a 
student union, greater freedom and respect for human rights. 
Police arrested 264 students and took them to a Rangoon race 
track. Authorities said all were released after their identities 
were checked. But some students believe some protesters 
remain jailed. 
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 nation-wide uprising against decades of repressive military 
Burma's military government crushed the generally non-violent 
uprising with force, gunning down more than 3.000 protesters 
and jailing thousands more. The government closed all 
universities and high schools for three years after the unrest. 
In an eerily-similar scenario, students have spilled into the 
streets at least three times since November. They accuse the 
police of beating some of them during a dispute between 
Rangoon Institute of Technology students and a restaurant 
The government said the offending officers have been dismissed 
and given prison sentences. 
But some students refuse to believe the government account 
published in the state-run media, which does not include details 
of the punishment. The key demand is for a student union, 
which the government has refused to allow. 
Students have frequently been at the forefront of social change 
in Burma. When Gen. Ne Win seized power in a 1962 coup, his 
troops blew up the student union building on Rangoon 
University campus, killing several youngsters. 
Ironically, a few of the students who witnessed the violence are 
now high-ranking intelligence officers. The government has 
tried to pin the recent protests on its main political opponent, 
Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Sun Kyi, accusing her of 
inciting unrest. (AP)