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Burma troops lift barricades.
Burma Troops Lift Barricades
RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Heavy security around a
downtown Rangoon medical school
was lifted Sunday after the government sent
nearly all the students back to their homes in the
countryside to quell the largest street
demonstrations since a 1988 nationwide democracy
Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remained
confined to her home, however,
disappointing about 200 followers who hoped she
would appear on the streets and speak to
The government has accused Suu Kyi of fomenting
the recent unrest, but students who
staged demonstrations in Rangoon and Mandalay
last week have denied any link to her or
her political party. They are calling for an
end to police brutality, the right to form a students
union and more civil liberties.
Medical University No. 1, where security was
lifted Sunday, was the site of several sit-ins
last week. Students said three people were
arrested. The school's dormitory appeared to be
Burma's military government responded to the
weeklong demonstrations by closing most
schools, arresting some students and members of
Suu Kyi's party, sending students home,
blocking off roads with troops and riot police
and stationing tanks in downtown Rangoon.
Despite skirmishes in Rangoon last week in
which rocks were thrown and some young
people were beaten, the military's response was
mild compared with the brutality it
unleashed in 1988, gunning down more than 3,000
protesters, jailing thousands and closing
schools for three years.
The 1988 protests built up over several months,
however, and there were periods then
when the military seemed to be taking a softer
line, only to lash out violently later on.
But with schools closed, students on their way
home and protest leaders hiding, under
surveillance or in jail, the military seems to
have succeeded in stopping the civil disobedience
for the time being.
The challenge for the military now is to open
schools as soon as possible without facing a
recurrence of the demonstrations.
The regime's insistence on blaming Suu Kyi for
the protests, and confining her as punishment,
is pushing some Western
governments to consider punitive action against
Burma, also known as Myanmar.
The European Union has condemned the
restrictions on Suu Kyi and members of President
Clinton's administration have been meeting
during the past few days to discuss possible
actions against Burma's military rulers.
[ By PATRICK McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer
Sunday, December 15, 1996].