Activists detained in Myanmar-AP

July 9, 2012

Activists Held by Myanmar Are Released

Associated Press: July 7, 2012


The authorities in Myanmar briefly detained more than 20 political activists ahead of a planned commemoration on Saturday of the 50th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on students.

Although all the activists were freed after about a day, their colleagues said the detentions raised concerns that the government had not abandoned the use of repressive tactics despite the president’s widely praised reforms.

Kyaw Ko Ko, leader of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, said 23 people were arrested in the crackdown, which began Friday night. His group had organized the commemoration.

On July, 7, 1962, students in Rangoon, the former name of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, staged a protest against the military government of Gen. Ne Win, which had taken power four months earlier. Their protest was suppressed by force, and on July 8, the army blew up the student union building at Rangoon University. It is believed that dozens of students were killed in the crackdown.

“The authorities picked us up to prevent us from commemorating the July 7 event,” said Sithu Maung, 25, a student activist who was one of those detained. Such arrests, he said, “should not happen anymore when the country is on the road to democratic reforms.”

Mr. Sithu Maung said the authorities explained their concerns, but the student group insisted that its intention was not to create unrest but to remember the fallen heroes and let a new generation know the history of the student movement.

President Thein Sein, a former general, has initiated reforms that are intended to bolster economic development and have been well received internationally.

“Even when the president has repeatedly said his government is making real reforms, it is very disappointing that there are some in the government who still cannot abandon their old habits,” said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of a failed 1988 democracy uprising who has spent years in prison.



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