Monday, October 30, 2006

96-Uprising -to 98

Many of the student leaders as well as those who supported the 96 movement were arrested after the closure of universities and handed long and harsh jail terms. The most notably was the sentence of 20years imprisonment for the man who donated boxes of mineral water to the demonstrators at Hledan junction. His shop was ordered to close doors as well. It was also learnt that the man who owned the loudspeaker, which was used by the students was also jailed. Many of the journalists were sent behind bars for directly or indirectly involving in the protests as well.

Known by the pseudonym Cho Seint, Kyaw San was sentenced to seven years in prison for supporting the 1996 student demonstrations in his articles and poems, published in opposition magazines. He was badly beaten during interrogation at the start of 1997 and has been partially deaf ever since. He is the grandson of Thakin Kotaw Hmime, one of the fathers of independence along with Gen. Aung San.

Aung Zin Min was arrested with journalist Cho Seint in December 1996 and sentenced to seven years in prison for supporting the 1996 student demonstrations in his poems, published above all else in the magazine New Style which he helped to edit.

A teacher and journalist who used the pseudonym Myint Myat Thein, Myint Thein was arrested on 4 December 1996 during student demonstrations in Rangoon and was badly beaten by police during interrogation. A few weeks later, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for supporting the student movement in his magazine pieces. He wrote on international relations for several magazines including the monthly Ah-twe-Ah-myin, Shwe Wut Hmone, Nwe-ni and Thaung-pyaung-htway-la.

The junta successfully crushed the 96 uprising but not the morale of the students. Even though many students who led the movement were put behind bars or slipped into Thailand after the uprising, the rest of us were determined to fight on. We all knew the reopening of the universities would unite us again. And we all knew most of us would not bow to the brutality of the regime and just attended the classes as they wanted.

Just days before the reopening of YIT, students made plan to stage a protest at Hledan again. The plan was relayed to the students many days ahead of the planned schedule by mouth. We were to strike on August 25th (12 noon or 1 o’clock, the exact time I didn’t remember). We were to wear yellow rubberband on our wrist and waited around the junction until the scheduled time.

Some of us were worried that MI would somehow detected our plan but it was all clear on that day. No large number of police and barricades were presented around Hledan, just youths with yellow rubberbands sitting on the platforms, wandering inside the book stores, drinking tea in teashops and shopping along the street stalls. My blood was running high with satisfaction and excitement. This showed the determination and courage the students had. This showed the struggle of Burma would continue even if we failed now.

The junta was caught off guard again (at least we thought). The protest was a total surprise for everyone. I left early, and later learnt that riot police broke up the protest and arrested several people. There was news of another protest in YIT later that day and some confrontation between the riot police and the students.

However, the junta opened the YIT doors on the last day of August (could not remember exactly but it was around then) and met with protests on 2nd September.

(Notes: Reports about journalists were taken from the news media on the web)