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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
                          the jungle. 

                          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 
of demonstrators. 

                          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].