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Two escape Burmese dragnet.
Two Escape Burmese Dragnet
By JIRAPORN WONGPAITHOON
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 4, 1997 1:01 pm EST
TEAKAPLAW, Burma (AP) -- Two men Burma's
military rulers accuse of fomenting
student unrest have slipped a government
dragnet and made their way to a guerrilla base in
Than Nyunt Oo and Thet Hmu, both 26, appeared
disheveled but relieved last week at the
headquarters of the Karen National Union, an
insurgent group that has fought the
government for nearly a half century.
Their escape from Rangoon followed a crackdown
on protests by university students in
December -- the most important unrest since a
1988 uprising ended in bloodshed.
Gen. Khin Nyunt, head of military intelligence
for the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council -- or SLORC -- has named
the two men as suspected agitators of the
student unrest. Thirty-four others were given
seven-year prison terms for fomenting unrest
following secret trials.
``I don't care if the SLORC comes after me or
not,'' Thar Nyunt Oo said at the guerrilla
base near Burma's border with Thailand. ``I
will continue the struggle, because ... the
SLORC will try to annihilate the opposition.''
They said other suspects were also on their way
to the border using underground networks.
Both men spent several years in jail in
connection with the 1988 uprising against military rule,
suppressed when the army gunned down thousands
Thar Nyunt Oo enrolled in medical school after
his release in 1994. In December, students
at his institute staged days of sit-ins. On
Dec. 10, security forces surrounded his home to
arrest him, and he fled.
Thet Hmu, also a medical student, had been free
just seven months when the university
protests began in Rangoon.
The demonstrators, angered by police who beat
students after a dispute with the owner of a
food stall, had demanded an independent union
for students and more civil liberties.
``I was personally involved in the
demonstrations,'' Thet Hmu said. ``Younger students
always respect senior students and take their
Returning to prison would be a nightmare, they
Thet Hmu said prisoners are kept five or six to
a tiny cell and often chained to iron posts for
breaking prison rules. Beatings, months in
solitary confinement, and AIDS spread by heroin
use are common.
Though surrounded at the jungle camp by armed
guerrillas -- who are struggling to hold
territory against the Burmese army -- the
students espoused the non-violence that won
fellow democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
``The December movement was part of a larger
concern for democracy,'' Thet Hmu said.
``It came from a lack of democracy.''
[Associated Press, 4 Feb 1997].