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Locals join student protests in Mya
Subject: Locals join student protests in Myanmar (The Hindu, 12/12/96.)
Locals join student protests in Myanmar
The Hindu, 12/12/96.
YANGON, Dec. 11.
Local people joined students as they protested at a site 13 km
north of downtown Yangon today but the crowd quietly
dispersed after nearly two hours of slogan raising.
About 1,000 people, including some 500 students from the
Institute of Medicine, staged the protest, but government
authorities did not intervene.
Schools remained closed for a third straight day, however, and
the Opposition leader, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, reportedly
remained confined to her house. Ms. Suu Kyi can only leave her
house after she asks for permission to do so and she reportedly
does not want to do that.
Protests also spread to the Institute of Medicine in Mandalay,
according to a Human Rights Watch Asia statement.
Government officials said the universities would reopen when
the situation returns to normal. The students have been
protesting for the right to form a union.
In Myanmar student unions are illegal.
Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed Myanmarese government-in-
exile predicted today that various democratic forces at play in
Myanmar were poised to topple the military junta.-- DPA,
A new Myanmar generation at the pickets
YANGON, Dec. 11.
Eight years after troops gunned down hundreds of pro-
democracy protesters, a new generation of Myanmarese is
taking to the streets -- and they are not led by Ms Suu Kyi.
Increasingly confined to her home and muzzled by the military
government, the 1991 Nobel peace prize winner is a spectator
to a wave of protests by the university students changing the
equation of political dissent in this tightly controlled country.
A generation gap is visible between the students, in their early
20s or younger, and the older supporters loyal to Ms Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy, who fill a Yangon intersection
each weekend in the usually vain hope she can come give a
"We are not concerned with the NLD or Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi," said Mr. Zah Muzui Nu, 22, an economics student. The
government says we are connected with the NLD. It is not true.
We are not our elder brothers, We are a new generation."
The students express no animosity toward Ms Suu Kyi, but
they're focused on their own agenda. And that basically means
more student rights rather Ms. Suu Kyi's call for broad political
dialogue with the government.
But one thing is the same as 1988-Yangon resembles a city
Trucks packed with soldiers training assault rifles over the cabs
speed to dormitories or campuses at the least sign of a sit-in or
march. Police armed with rattan shields and clubs chase
onlookers down streets hung with banners urging tourists visit
Myanmar, the golden land.
Police have beaten and chased journalists. Photographers and
cameramen have had their film seized. The film usually is
returned without portions state intelligence finds useful.
So far, bloodshed has been avoided. The regime's security
forces have acted with relative restraint compared to the
carnage seen in 1988, now using clubs and water cannon to
disperse protesters rather than tear-gas and live ammunition.
"It's all gone very well, following standard international
procedures," said Major. Hla Min, a senior intelligence official
and government spokesman.
Before the demonstrations, Myanmar was at a stalemate. The
state law and order restoration council, the Junta in control of
the country, has stymied Ms Suu Kyi at every turn since freeing
her from six years of house arrest in 1995.
Ms Suu Kyi's contact with ordinary Myanmarese has been
virtually cut off since September, when authorities started
erecting roadblocks each weekend to stop supporters gathering
at her home. Now, those roadblocks seem insignificant.
Ten square km of Yangon are sealed off to isolate three
university campuses at the heart of the unrest. Ready-made
bared-wire barricades have been placed in scores of other
places, ready to be dragged across streets quickly.
The students stand virtually no chance of toppling the
government -- which is not their stated goal -- and probably
little likelihood they can wrest concessions from a regime not
known for give and take.
The students share with Ms. Suu Kyi, 51, an obvious dislike for
the regime and often chant slogans demanding democracy and
freedom. But they say their main goal is an independent student
council to negotiate their grievances with the government.
The last council was disbanded in 1962 when General Ne Win
blew up Yangon University's student union building -- a
traditional hotbed of dissent since the British colonial era -- in a
seizure of power by the military that continues to this day. - AP