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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 
under siege.
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