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News on Indian Papers

The Asian Age
10, Dec., 1996
Rangoon, Dec. 9:         Burma's military government shut down classes at 
universities on 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 campus 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 clamp-down 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 rule. Burma's military government 
crushed the generally non-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 time since November. They accuse the police of beating some of them 
during a dispute between Rangoon Institute of Technology students and a 
restaurant owner.
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 Suu Kyi, accusing 
her of inciting unrest. (AFP)
Rangoon, Dec. 9:        Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 
rejected government charges on Monday that her party was linking to 
spreading student protests and called on the country's military rules to 
seek new solution to the unrest. Responding to accusations by a spokesman 
for the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council that some members 
of her National League for Democracy, Communist elements and exiles, were 
linked to the demonstrations. "We have evidence that not only some 
National League for Democracy members but also members of the All Burma 
Students Democratic Front and underground elements of the Burma Communist 
Party are deeply involved in this unrest," a spokesman for the military 
government said.
The Bangkok-based ABSDF's membership is made up of students who have fled 
the country since an abortive uprising in 1988. The BCP is outlawed in 
Burma. "We are trying to flush out these elements as they come out to the 
front of unrest," the government spokesman added. "We expect after a 
short period of time, things will return to normal." Nobel Peace Prize 
winner Suu Kyi rejected the charge that the NLD, be from taking power 
after winning the 1990 general elections, was involved in the protest. 
"This is absolutely ridiculous. They should deal with their problems 
instead of trying to find someone else to blame," she said on telephone. 
"They are never prepared to accept their responsibility as a government. 
This theory of conspiracy is totally out of date." "We want some more 
modern approach (to deal with the problems)," the Opposition leader 
added. Witnesses said soldiers moved in on Monday afternoon to disperse 
about 120 students who had staged a rally outside the gates of another 
university campus.(Reuters)
Bangkok, Dec. 9:        Burma on Monday deported a Dutch woman who it 
said had been working illegally as a journalist covering student protests 
in country. "She came into the country posing as a tourist but she was 
actually covering the student incidents. She was found out and deported," 
a Burmese military government spokesman told Reuters over the telephone 
from Rangoon.
Burma is strict on ensuring journalists have visas. Recently its 
embassies abroad have issued journalist visas on a selective basic only 
ahead of monthly news conference organised by the ruling State Law & 
Order Restoration Council. The deported woman, Ms Williamke Joanna 
Nyhuis, said on arrival in Bangkok that she had denied the Burmese 
charges when interrogated in Rangoon. Ms Nyhuis said she was questioned 
on Sunday by Burmese immigration officials about links with the 
protesting students and Opposition leader  Aung San Suu Kyi. "They 
refused to say why I was being deported," she added. She declined to 
disclose her profession. SLORC has faced its biggest challenge from 
protesting students since troops crushed students-led pro-democracy 
uprisings in 1988.(Reuters)
Rangoon's military junta wooing Buddhist monks now
Rangoon, Dec. 9:        Widely ostracized by Western governments and 
opposed by its own people for its human rights violations, Burma's 
military regime is turning to Buddhism in the hope of winning over the 
country's  thousands of Buddhist monks.
However, seven years after soldiers killed several dissident Buddhist 
monks and arrested hundreds more while brutally putting down a 
pro-democracy movement, Burma's clergy is still wary of the generals. On 
the streets of Rangoon, the evidence of government tinkering with 
religion is everywhere. An example is the glittering, golden 11th century 
Shwedagon Pagoda in the heart of Rangoon which is being renovated at much 
cost and spruced up for both  local and foreign visitors. It was not too 
long ago that the same building was desecrated beyond the expectations of 
this predominantly Theravada Buddhist nation. In July 1989, the ruling 
regime also known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, erected 
barricades in order to search all pilgrims. The ensuing unrest resulted 
in the death of 11 months and 17 students and the five days shutdown of 
the pagoda. Slorc's more recent pampering of the clergy through increased 
donations to temples, special privileges to monks and other favours is 
seen to be part of its "alternative strategy" aimed at weaning away the 
religious order from "wrong" political influences.
Buddhist monks, through Gen. Ne Win's military rule from the late 1960s 
to 1988, have supported democratic movements, and in the 1990 elections, 
they openly supported the National League for Democracy, the party of 
Nobel Peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Slorc is now trying to 
ensure that support base is finally wiped out. Not only does Slorc hope 
that offering financial incentives will sure the estimate 300,000 to 
500,000 monks and nuns in the country to their side. It is also critic 
say, trying to convince a highly-devout Buddhist population that it 
intents to protect its religious institutions and leaders.
Daily, the regime's state controlled television station beams out 
broadcasts of senior generals and military leaders visiting and praying 
in temples across the country, and meeting religious leaders.
Trying to prove its badly tarnished reputation is another reason for this 
"new gentle face" to an otherwise 
repressive regime which has killed and arrested scores of people since 
taking power in 1988, "The only purposes of such activities" says Zaw 
Win, a university-educated taxi-driver in Rangoon, "is to try to show the 
that the tatmadaw (armed forces) is very religious. No one believes them. 
The people know that the main purpose is to stop the monks' political 
leanings. "To those who refuse the carrot, there is always the stick.
Since 1988, or two years before the national polls where the NLD won an 
overwhelming majority but could get Slorc to give up power, monks in 
Burma have been systematically tortured and abuse by the regime.        
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