[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Burma students follow Gandhian way
Subject: Burma students follow Gandhian way of protest (The Asian Age, 12/12/96.)
Burma students follow Gandhian way to protest
'Now we are thinking of educating people about democracy'
BY THOMAS FOX
Bangkok, Dec. 11: Students protesting in Rangoon now are a
different breed from those who took part in the 1988 uprising
which was crushed by the military, according to Burmese exiles.
Crowds enraged by 26 years of poverty and mismanagement
under the hated military rule would sometimes leave dead
soldiers in their wake during the 1988 uprising, one exile
Burmese student told AFP.
"Today the students are wiser, they have more exposure ... and
they can listen to Ms Aung San Suu Kyi," Toe Zaw Latt said,
referring to the Opposition who espouses non-violence in her
drive to bring democracy to Burma.
A former Rangoon university student, Toe Zaw Latt studies
business administration in Thailand and is a "weekend activist"
with the All Burma Students Democratic Front and other
groups based in Bangkok.
"In 1988, I joined (the demonstrations) without knowing
anything - because my friends joined and because I hated the
Burma Socialist Program Party."
The BSPP was formed after a 1962 coup d'etat and served as
the main political vehicle of Burmese strongman Ne Win until'
'1988 when all military officials resigned from the party prior to
the setting up of the SLORC.
"Now we are thinking of reconstruction, economic reform,
educating the people about democracy and human rights," he
The past week has seen numerous protests break out around the
capital, the largest of which attracted up to 1,000 people and
was broken up by armed riot police and troops on Saturday
Security has been high in the Burmese capital, with riot police
and troops stationed on the streets ready to disperse student
demonstrators, who have been clamoring for the right to form a
Analysts in Rangoon say the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council, formed after a bloody crackdown
following the 1988 uprising, is clearly unsettled by the renewal
of student unrest.
In March 1988 a scuffle in a tea shop involving students
sparked nationwide mass protests which were brutally put down
by the military. Thousands were killed in the crackdown which
was followed by mass arrests.
However, exiled Burmese students in Thailand say today's
protests are vastly different from the violence of the 1988
Before leaving home, I though there was no way to solve this
problem without armed struggle," said ABSDF member Myat
Thu, formerly an undergraduate physics student in a college
southwest of Rangoon.
After 1988, Myat Thu joined the youth wing of Aung San Sun
Kyi's National League for Democracy, which swept 80 percent
of seats in the 1990 elections which never ratified by the State
Law and Order Restoration Council '
In the subsequent crackdown, along with thousands of other
students and opposition activists, he fled to the border areas and
on into Thailand. (AFP)
Suu Kyi capitalise on unrest: Junta
Rangoon, Dec. 11: Ms Aung San Sun Kyi remained confined to
her home on Wednesday as the Burma junta told embassies that
the prodemocracy leader could take advantage of the current
Amid reports of a brief demonstration outside the US embassy
overnight, Rangoon missions received a ministry of foreign
affairs statement on Wednesday that authorities had requested
the National League for Democracy to stay inside her
compound "for her own safety until the situation returns to
"Since it is likely that she may try and take advantage of the
situation and that some international media may be misled by
her claims, the true fact is that the authorities have asked for her
cooperation in true sincerity," it said.
Ms Sun Kyi has denied any connection to the current
demonstrations for student rights - the most defiant anti-
government protests since the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council took power after crushing a pro-
democracy movement in 1988 catalyzed by students. (AFP)