[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Burma's Student Movement: A Concise
- Subject: Burma's Student Movement: A Concise
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 16:10:00
Received: (from strider) by igc2.igc.apc.org (8.6.9/Revision: 1.5 ) id QAA14490; Sat, 17 Dec 1994 16:10:00 -0800
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 16:10:00 -0800
Subject: Burma's Student Movement: A Concise History
BURMA'S STUDENT MOVEMENT: A CONCISE HISTORY
by Aung Saw Oo
Third Edition, September 1993
[18 pp. Burmese, 26 pp. English, 21 pp. Photographs; only English below]
THE STUDENT MOVEMENT UNDER THE COLONIALISTS
After Burma had been completely conquered by the British, the remaining
feudal lords and the citizens of Burma, each wanting to be a ruler of the
country, revolted against the colonialists. However, they were still
governed by feudalistic ideas.
It was only at the start of the nineteenth century that some semblance of
mass resistance against the colonialists and the modern struggle for
independence materialized. During the colonial era, there was the
Rangoon University Students' Boycott in 1920, the 1935-36 Rangoon
University Students' Second Boycott, and in 1938 a strike participated in
by workers, farmers, students, monks and the public.
The First Rangoon University Students' Boycott in 1920 aimed for
nationwide resistance of the Colonial Policy and Complete National
The G.C.B.A. Movement, the 1931 Saya San Movement or the Farmers'
Revolution and the 1938 B.O.C. Strike or 1300 Revolution and the
students' movements were all of the same mould.
During that period of colonial resistance and the struggle for National
Independence, the University Students' Union came into being. The Union
was formed with the following aims:
(1) to be able to live in a society where one can work for better living
standards of the society,
(2) to be able to live a life in which one can depend upon oneself and
(3) to make people realize their responsibilities and duties. The Union
stood for independence of thought and the ability to talk freely of
thoughts and ideas.
In 1926, a wealthy doctor named U Nyo donated 170,000 Kyats in silver
coins to establish the Union.
On September 12th, 1930, the boarders and the day scholars of Rangoon
University came to an agreement and three students named Ko Kyaw
Khin, Ko Tint Swe and Ko Ba Gyan met a judge named U Ba and obtained
permission to form a committee to draw up the rules and regulations for
On 20 September, students held a mass meeting and decided to form the
University Students' Union. Then during the October holidays the rules
and regulations for the Union were drawn up. They were finished in the
first week of November and on 24 November, they were signed and
shown to the student body for comment.
In January, 1931, a mass student meeting decided unanimously to form
the Union with nine executive members. The executive members had the
right to negotiate and discuss with the University authorities about the
matter of building a Union building as well as the rules and regulations of
the Union on behalf of the Union. In this way on 31st January, 1931, the
Rangoon University Students' Union was formed. The first chairman of
the Rangoon University Students' Union was Ko Kyaw Khin and the last
chairman was Ko Ba Swe Lay. Ko Ba Swe Lay died courageously in the
forest after the military coup d' etat in 1962 while fighting against the
military junta . Therefore, the Rangoon University Students' Union lasted
from 1931 till 1966 through all sorts of conditions: the colonial era, the
Fascist Japanese Regime, the Independent Era and the military regime. For
thirty five years it served for the benefit of the public and the students.
During the period of 1935-36, the All Burma Students' Union (ABSU) was
formed [The first chairman of the All Burma Students' Union (ABSU) was
U Raschid (M.A.) and the first general secretary was Ko Aung San. The
last chairman was Ko Khin Maung Ohn and the last general secretary
was Ko Tin Tun (Phyapon). In 1962, a group of people, including Ne
Win, staged a coup d' etat so the next day he (Ko Khin Maung Ohn)
declared that they supported the coup d' etat. Therefore, the All Burma
Students' Union (ABSU) (HQ) called an executive members meeting and
Ko Khin Maung Ohn was expelled from the organization and the vice-
chairman Ko Thet was made the chairman]. In 1936 the 2nd Students'
Strike took place.
In 1938 ( 1300 in the Burmese Era), on 25th April, the Third National
Students' Union Annual Meeting was held in Bassein. In that meeting the
representatives of the students put up an important proposal: The
Rangoon University Bill had not yet been considered by the government
and if by the coming August nothing had been done about the students'
proposals then they would see that they got what they wanted. The
proposal was put up by Ko Kyaw Myint (B.A.) and supported by Ko Tun
Tin. At that time the acting M.C., who was the general secretary Ko Aung
San, said that every time they went on strike, even if they did not succeed
fully, their proposals were mostly granted. "In the 1936 strike, even
though at first we were successful our strength was becoming weaker so
in order to recuperate without losing face we backed down. Now our
strength is fortified and in the coming year when I become the chairman
either the name Aung San will fall or our work will be successful," said
Ko Aung San (General Aung San).
Again in statement No.10, Ko Ba Hein and Ko Toe Yin of Mandalay
University Students' Union put up the proposal that students should be
involved politics. That proposal was objected to by Ko Mya Shein from
Myaung Mya. M.C. Ko Aung San said anyone agreeing to the proposal
should say "Aye" and anyone objecting should say "No". Only two people
objected to the proposal. Then the majority of the students shouted them
down, so M.C. Ko Aung San apologized and the proposal was agreed
After that students' meeting, Ko Aung San, the general secretary of the
Students' Union left the Students' Union and became a member of the Doh
Bamar Asiayone (We Burmese Association). He had entered the political
arena, as the Burmese saying goes, with both feet. The duties of Ko Aung
San were taken over by Ko Ba Hein. He joined hands with monks,
workers, farmers and the public for the BOC Strike or the oilfield strike.
While Ko Ba Hein was imprisoned in Magwe jail, he opened the roof of
his cell and shouted out bravely "Comrades, please carry on marching If
the colonial police horse kicks once it shall set the country aflame. "
The 1300 strike slowly gained momentum and in December, 1938, when
the students demonstrated in front of the Secretariat the student leader Ko
Aung Gyaw died from injuries sustained from being hit by colonial police
clubs (heavy wooden sticks known as "numbered clubs").
Concerning the death Of Ko Aung Gyaw, the Burmese Newspaper "The
Light of Burma" sent a certificate of honour to one of the people who had
The Certificate of Honour
for the Cause of Independence
Serial Number 61.
To go about freely, to talk freely and to write freely are the rights which
every citizen ought to enjoy. If these rights are denied then they are being
denied the right to be human beings.
When obtaining Independence, oppression is an obstruction. While one is
trying to eradicate this oppression, if one sustains injuries or death, it is
considered a death of honour or injury of honour therefore one would
want those injuries or death.
Scars which are sustained while fighting for the cause of Independence
are more honorable, valuable and more respected than the medals
awarded by a Sovereign or a King.
The person mentioned below has sustained injuries in the fight for the
cause of Independence, so we honour and pay our respects to him.
Name Ko Ba Than
Names of Parents
Person honouring and
paying respect Chit Maung
The Light of Burma Newspaper
In the cause of independence the martyr Ko Aung Gyaw, who truly loved
his nation, died an honourable death.
The Light of Burma - 8415
In this way, unarmed Ko Aung Gyaw, who had demonstrated peacefully,
died on December 23rd, 1938, from injuries inflicted by the heavy clubs
of the military police, stooges of the colonial powers. A letter was also sent
to the martyr from his political comrades imprisoned in Insein Jail.
Martyred Comrade Aung Gyaw,
You as a true Burmese have given up your precious
life blood for the Burmese people. You have done your
duty. You are a true man. We who still have life in
our bodies will spend the rest of our days struggling
for the cause of Burma, whether it leads us to the
hanging post or to independence.
If the Burmese nationals procrastinate then you and
those who have worked tirelessly for independence
day and night will be betrayed and not only that, the
torch of Burma's independence which was transferred
into our hands will be extinguished.
We do not grieve for you even a little bit for losing
your life in the cause of Burma's independence.
You have given up your life so that we can build a
heaven on earth governed by our own rulers.
May the cause be successful.
Ko Ba Hein
Ko Ba Swe
Thakhin Htein Win
Thakhin Pe Thein
Thakhin Lay Maung
Thakhin Khin Aung
At the funeral of the Martyr Ko Aung Gyaw one of the student leaders, Ko
Hla Shwe said these words in grief:
"While lying beside each other, our heads inflicted
with injuries, on the top floor of the Sun Newspaper
(Thuriya Newspaper) he said 'We will die for our
fellow-nationals. Don't let them touch the Chairman.'
And when I went to visit him at the hospital he said ]
almost deliriously: 'Ko Hla Shwe we will march
forward.' And when we first opposed the authorities,
he said 'Let me die holding the flag in the front.' I can
still hear and see him. Ko Aung Gyaw, Comrade, your
wish has been fulfilled to be recorded in history.
Then Ko Aung Gyaw's mother Daw Shwe Kyawt said, addressing the
"The blood of my bosom, my young son Maung Aung
Gyaw, was not even armed with a needle or even a
short stick yet he was beaten by the police with heavy
clubs, so the public and the monks were shocked and
could not bear his death. If you can imagine how
great their anger was, can you imagine how I must
feel as a mother who had carried him for nine months
and gave birth at ten months -- your reverend sir.
?Aung Gyaw, more than the grief I have for your
death -- I grieve because I can no longer give birth to
another son like you, my son" said his mother
In that funeral ceremony Myoma Saya Hein said:
"Comrade Martyr Bo Aung Gyaw who has fallen in the cause of our
Independence, you are a pioneer leader. As long as there are Burmese in
this world we will remember and honour you, Martyr Comrade Bo Aung
"The sound of colonial police beating with heavy clubs mercilessly in the
ears of the public will be like the sound which is urging us to fight for
"Martyr Comrade Bo Aung Gyaw your honoured and memorable death
will send us people to the goal of Independence. We take it as an omen.
"Martyr Comrade Bo Aung Gyaw. your honourable mind, constant
diligence, self-sacrificing attitude, and sacrificial courage have ignited the
flame that set our hearts on fire and continues to burn roaringly. The
Independence goal you have set we will continue to march towards, till
we reach it as we have pledged."
Therefore, the aims of the students' movement in the colonial era were:
(1) To get full independence from the yoke of the British colonial policy
(2) To do away with the colonial educational system and to build a
national educational system.
PRE-INDEPENDENCE ERA STUDENT MOVEMENT
In 1941, the Students' Union was suspended, and an emergency Students'
Union came into being in 1945-46. When the general strike broke out in
1946 the students, workers, peasants and the public participated.
In 1948, the civil war started and in 1949, a strike against the Anti-
Fascist Peoples' Freedom League (AFPFL) government took place. The
Students' Union also participated. In 1951, the All Burma Federation of
Students' Union (ABFSU) was formed by joining the All Burma Students'
Union (ABSU), the Rangoon University Students' Union and the Rangoon
District Students' Union. It fought against the colonial system, for internal
peace, and democracy and to build up a national educational system.
In 1953, the Strike To Close the University for One Month in October
took place, and in the university area the first sound of gun shots was
heard during the AFPFL government. Twenty-nine students were
imprisoned, thirty were expelled from the university for life and ten were
expelled for one year.
In March, 1956, the seventh standard questions were supposed to have
leaked out and the Harry Tan Incident took place. The students' body was
shot at and the seventh standard student Harry Tan died. This was the
first time that the blood of a student fell on the ground after
Independence during the period of the AFPFL Government.
In October, 1956, the AFPFL government announced that the Students'
Union would have to be abolished within thirty days. This was the highest
form of oppression against the democratic rights of the students so that
the students went on a strike. Twenty-six students from the whole of
Burma were imprisoned and 256 students were expelled.
THE STUDENTS' MOVEMENT
(FROM 28TH OCTOBER 1958 TILL 3RD APRIL 1960)
DURING 17 MONTHS (523 DAYS)
UNDER THE RULE OF THE SO-CALLED CARETAKER GOVERNMENT
AFTER THE FIRST COUP D' ETAT
In 1958, the 10th Anniversary of the Internal Peace Strike took place and
the students participated.
On September 28, the Rangoon University Students' Union held a
swearing-in ceremony. On that day U Nu had transferred power to a
man called Ne Win. The students showed their objection by marching
around the University campus on 30 September. On August 31, 1959,
Rangoon Arts & Science University (RASU) leaders Ko Ba Swe Lay, Ko
Nyan Yin and Ko Myint Thein were not given the right to enroll in the
university by the military authorities. This fact was not known by the
Rector. Therefore the Rector permitted them to enroll.
In October, 1959, it was announced that those who could not go back to
their homes during the holidays were allowed to stay only in the two
hostels Amara and Ramanya after paying lodging fees of Ks 14. The
students considered that the announcement was against the tradition of
the university and disturbed their research. Then, it was announced that
during that time the University Corps was going to be kept in the hostels.
Therefore on 23rd September, 1959, the University Students' Union called
a mass meeting and objected to (a) the fact that they had to pay Ks 14 and
were not allowed to stay in their own hostels; (b) the army had used the
University Corps as an excuse to install troops inside the university
campus. Directly after the meeting the students marched through the
university campus to show their objection. The military authorities said in
response that the executive members of the Students' Union had violated
the regulations and caused a disturbance so the Rector had to sign a
written apology within a week.
In the University Executive meeting after serious thought it was agreed
that the teachers and the students should decide about this matter
peacefully. Therefore, to keep the peace of the university and so that the
students could study peacefully, and friendship should not be destroyed,
this case should be handled by the teachers and the students jointly. In
order that the parents and the teachers should not feel unhappy the
University Students' Union executive members on the 1st October went to
the Rector to convey their repentance.
In that year, more unjust hostel regulations were announced. The hostel
committee was under the University Council and in the Hostel Committee
there are always two students; in 1959 when the university re-opened; it
was announced that two representatives from two hostels would serve in
turn. However, because they did not recognize the members that
represented the students, the University Students' Union objected.
A bill to reform the Rangoon University Act was announced in order to
exclude the two University Students' Union representatives. Therefore the
University Students' Union objected to the bill but on 2nd March, 1959, it
was passed in the parliament.
The students that were detained by the Caretaker Government were not
permitted to take their examination though the Union had appealed for
The collection of the subscription fees for the Union was stopped half way
in the year 1959-60 and for the year 1960-61 they were never collected.
All Burma Federation of Students' Union (ABFSU) chairman Ko Khin
Maung Ohn, secretary Ko Aung Ban and executive member Ko Pho Tha
Be were sent to Coco island.
All Burma Federation of Students' Union (ABFSU) vice-chairman, former
executive member Ko Myint Oo, Ava Hostel Social & Reading Association
executive member Ko Kein Ngwe, Pioneer student executive member Ko
Ko Gyi and Shan national Sai Nuan Saing were arrested.
The University Students' Union vice-chairman Ko Ba Kaung, Secretary Ko
Khin Aung, executive member Ko Yu and the University Students' Union
chairman Ko Zaw Win had to go into hiding after a warrant to arrest
them was issued.
THE STUDENT MOVEMENT
IN THE PERIOD OF THE SO-CALLED REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL
AFTER THE SECOND COUP D' ETAT
On 2 March, 1962, a man named General Ne Win took control of state
power for the second time.
On 30 April, 1962, the 11th Co-conference of the Army Commanders
was held at the Yatanabon Naval Base and there the policy of the
Revolutionary Council was announced.
On 2 May, 1962, the conference supported the Revolutionary Council's
policy. In that conference the coup d' etat military leader Ne Win said
that the army which was the backbone of the Revolutionary Council,
stood united and strengthened, therefore there was no danger to worry
On 4 May, 1962, the leaders of the All Burma Federation of Students'
Union (ABFSU) discussed the case of a student who had been expelled
from his hostel because he did not get on well his warder. In 1963, the
Burmese and English curriculum of the high school examination was
On 9 May, 1962, Pioneer Ko Mya Than, Ko Thet, Ko Tha Ban and Ko
Zaw Win were arrested for demonstrating at the Dutch Embassy. Ne Win
told the University Council that as the teachers had misbehaved and
among the students there was political influence, the University Council
had to be abolished. The Union commented that the governing body of
the university had been taken over by the Revolutionary Council.
On 11 May, 1962, the Rangoon University Rector Dr. Tha Hla handed in
his resignation and the Burmese Professor U Aye Maung retired; U Wun
(Minthuwun) changed his faculty. On 12 May, 1962, some wardens and
assistant wardens from the Rangoon University hostels resigned. On 17
May, 1962 the Revolutionary Council's order No.30 was announced and
the University Council was reformed. The Adipadi (Chancellor) was
Brigadier General Than Pe, Brigadier General San Yu, Col. Than Sein and
Col. Tin Soe were included. The Rector was the former Education Minister
U Kar of the 1958 Caretaker Government.
On 26 May, 1962 five tutorial school were closed down due to the
leakage of questions.
On 18 June, 1962 more unjust rules of the hostels were announced. For
example, the people who ate vegetarian food were not allowed to eat it
for one or two days unless they ate it the whole year.
On 2 July, 1962 the high school leaving examination was abolished. The
All Burma Federation of Students' Union (ABFSU) requested a discussion
with the authorities.
On 3 July, 1962 in the hall of the Union there was a meeting to discuss
the abolition of the system of education, and the unjust hostel rules.
On 4 July, 1962, the embryonic Burmese Socialist Programme Party
(BSPP) was formed.
On 5th July, 1962, a strike at the Dutch Embassy was carried out by three
big unions. The military authorities then stated that the people involved in
the strike did not really represent the unions. The Students' Union felt that
the statement made their Union appear insignificant so they objected.
On 6 July, 1962, the Revolutionary Council reformed the University
Senate and the Hostel Committee according to their wishes.
On 7 July, 1962, at 1:00 p.m. the Students' Union held a meeting to
discuss the reform and after that the students went on a protest march
through the university campus. At first the Security Police (Lone Htein)
arrived and they tried to control the situation by throwing tear gas. In the
evening at about 5:30 p.m. two army trucks arrived and along Mandalay
Hall, Ramanya Hall and Chancellor Road the soldiers started shooting at
the students with automatic rifles. The soldiers were from No. 4 Burmese
Rifles Battalion and the shooting order was 3 minutes shooting 2 minutes
rest and 3 minutes shooting. The guns were made by a joint venture of a
Burmese and German Company. They were G-3 and G-4 rifles which
had never been used in any battle field.
The military government declared that 17 students died, but in Mandalay
Hall alone more than 17 students died according to the official records
and altogether over a hundred students died. Ko Kyaw Win, a student
from Myaung-mya had written on the wall of Mandalay Hall with blood
from his body "7-7-62, do not forget it". Ko Kyaw Win had taken refuge
at the Union Building.
On 8 July, 1962, at dawn the Union Building, which had a prominent
standing in the history of Burmese Independence, was destroyed by
dynamite because the military government had said that it was the
headquarters of the above ground communists and the refuge place of the
student leaders. It was an act which had not even been committed by the
colonialist foreign government. It was bloodthirsty fascists who had
cruelly destroyed the Union building by dynamite. Ko Kyaw Win of
Myaung-mya, who was in bed with injuries, had been blown up together
with the building.
The next morning at 8 a.m. when the news was announced from the
radio, the military dictator called General Ne Win said, referring to the
students' uprising, "If it was done purposely to oppose us, I have nothing
more to say except that we will face them with sword against sword, and
spear against spear, that is the only solution. " With these words he
insulted the students and 'the people en masse.
When the university reopened in November, in the place of old Union
Building a hut was built temporarily; and along with the Bo Aung Gyaw
Monument, a stone monument was built, 77 inches in length and 62
inches in breadth. In memory of the students who died on 7-7-62,
because more than hundred students had died, it was named "Yar Gyaw
Kyauk Taing", which means "Over Hundred Monument".
However, before long there were protest rallies "to stop the civil war" and
"to have peace within the country", and together with the over hundred
monument the temporary hut was again destroyed.
During the last days of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) on
July 22, 1988, (1350 second Waso, waxing day of 10th) at the Saya San
Hall of Kyaikasan at the last conference of the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party (BSPP), U Ne Win (retired General) mentioned the
destruction of the Union Building, as if he was not responsible; he tried to
put the blame on Aung Gyi. But, in fact in 1963 when the temporary hut
was destroyed Aung Gyi was no longer in the army. One thing is sure that
"In history one cannot lie or one cannot be merciful".
Later, it was secretly decided to re-establish the Union and the Students'
Affair Committee. And in 1966 it existed in all kind of guises. Some even
went into the armed forces and fought against the military dictatorship
Therefore, the history of the post-war students' movement had various
levels of significance:
1. It was the continuation of the students' movement under the colonialist
era, still trying to perform the unfinished duties.
2. It was a segment of the Peoples' fight against the colonialist, for
complete national independence, and the fight to maintain national
3. It was the history of the fight of the students and the people for peace
within the country, so that they could study peacefully.
4. It was the history of the protection of the rights of the students and the
rights of democracy in general.
5. It was the history of the fight to end the topsy-turvy Educational System
and to establish a National Educational System.
THE STUDENT MOVEMENT
DURING THE BURMESE SOCIALIST
PROGRAMME PARTY ERA
In 1964, when all associations, organizations, clubs, etc. were declared
null and void, the Students' Union automatically became an underground
After 1964, some student leaders joined the armed revolution groups.
Most of them joined the Communist Party of Burma and some joined the
ethnic armed Revolutionary Groups, and some were imprisoned and
tortured by the military regime (Revolutionary Council).
In 1969, the political prisoners and the student leaders were sent to Coco
island. At Coco island, there was a hunger strike and eight prisoners died;
among them, from Prome (Pyi) district, the student leader Ko Chit Swe
made himself famous in the history of the Students' Union by going on
hunger strike for 55 days.
On 1 December 1969, after the uprising of the South East Asia Peninsular
(S.E.A.P) Games in Rangoon, Mandalay and Moulmein, the some students
from all the universities were expelled and some were imprisoned.
In 1970, the Golden Jubilee of the Rangoon University was celebrated.
And the history of the 1962, 7 July was written, printed and published.
Before the Golden Jubilee Celebrations ended all the universities were
closed down. Many students were imprisoned and some were expelled.
In June, 1974, there was a Burma Workers' Strike and some workers
from the Textile Factory in Thamaing and Sinmalike Dockyard died from
gun shot wounds. In that movement the students had participated.
In December, 1974, there was the incident of U Thant's (former General-
Secretary of the United Nations) Funeral and over 5,000 people were
detained, including monks, students and the people, and they were
sentenced from 3 years to 7 years under military tribunals. And the
schools were closed for four months.
On 6 June, 1975, the students and the workers held a commemoration
ceremony. From then onwards there were strikes and over 250 were
detained. From middle school students up to university students were
sentenced to imprisonment of from 4 years to 9 years under military
tribunals. The schools were again closed for nearly seven months.
On 23 March, 1976, the centenary celebrations of the birthday of the
famous national writer and winner of the Starlin Peace Prize Thakhin Ko
Daw Hmaing were held. Yin-pwint-than Ni-dan chronicle was published,
criticizing the educational system devised by the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party (BSPP) to suit its own purposes. From various
universities, over two hundred and thirty students were detained and
were sentenced from 5 years to 14 years of imprisonment under military
tribunals. Hundreds of students from universities all over the country
were expelled for life. When they were expelled the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party's student affairs unit called the parents of students to
the party unit office and gave them certificates from the universities they
were attending signed by the Rector saying that they had been expelled
because they had committed political crimes.
A Chin national, Ko Tin Maung Oo, a student from the Rangoon Arts &
Science University (RASU) was given a death sentence; he was hanged in
Insein Prison sometime in June, 1976. Ko Tin Maung Oo was the first
person to be given a death sentence after Burma's Independence under
the government which was formed by the constitution of 1974, for which
90% of the public had voted. For the Hmaing Centenary, a Rakhine monk,
U Pyinya Thiri, had written a criticism about the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party (BSPP) government referring to Sayagyi Hmaing's Khwe
Di Kar, (a detailed life of a dog), and was sentenced six years of
imprisonment under the military tribunal No.1.
Therefore, the fascist military dictators had not only killed the monks,
students and the public openly in view of everybody on the roads; hidden
from peoples' eyes in the prison cells they had also killed cruelly in cold
In 1976-77-78, the workers and students who were imprisoned inside
the Insein prison had gone on hunger strike asking for prisoners' rights.
Thus they had fought on wherever they were.
The military junta tortured the students' and workers' leaders by sending
them to completely dark cells, military dog cells, and Leper cells. On 13
February, 1977, they went on hunger strike for 6 days and on 16 August,
1977, when they went on hunger strike for the second time for 10 days,
the military authorities cut off their water supplies as well.
In 1978, "A-Yay Daw Pon Thamaing", a history of the uprising and the 7
July incident was published by old student union members, from the years
of 74-75-76. The old student union leader, Rangoon Institute of
Technology (RIT) students and students from the Institute of Medicine
No.2 were detained, altogether about 50 students.
In 1986, the new generation students secretly and actively begin to move
for the re-establishment of the Students' Union. They circulated pamphlets
to re-kindle the spirit of the Union and its heritage.
In September, 1987, there was a strike because the government had
demonetized the paper money unjustly.
On 13 March, 1988, there was a students' uprising in the Rangoon
Institute of Technology (RIT) campus and the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party (BSPP) government declared that only one person had
died from an injury inflicted by a sharp weapon. But on that day Ko
Phone Maw, Ko Soe Naing, Ko Maung Maung Soe, Tin Maung Oo, Ko
Win Aung, Ko Than Shwe, altogether six people died.
During the uprising, Ne Win was known as Mar Ga, the President Sein
Lwin was known as Chin-the, Home Minister Min Gaung was Pyan
Lhua-1 (Swallow-1), Khin Maung Win from Rangoon Division Party was
known as Pyan Lhua-2, the Head of Police Department Pe Kyi was Daw
Na, and with those secret code names they had crushed the uprising. Sein
Lwin had broadcasted directly from the Burmese Broadcasting Station
(BBS): "Chinthe speaking, Pyan Lhua can you hear me? Shoot hard, shoot
a lot, those who shoot a lot will be rewarded."
Later, on March 16, 1988, the Red Bridge Uprising took place, and on 21
June the Myay-ni-gone Uprising, and on August 8-9 uprisings had
happened one after the another and hundreds of monks, students and
people had fought an unarmed battle by marching peacefully, and
hundreds had died.
During the uprising days of 8-8-88 (known as the four eights) the
students union was temporary re-established on the old site of the
Students' Union Building by the All Burma Federation of Students' Union
(ABFSU) whose Chairman was Min Ko Naing, and General Secretary Moe
Thee Zun. .
After the 1988 movements of the students, the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party (BSPP) tried to cover the dead elephant with the leather
of a goat as the saying goes. On 14 May, 1988 (1350, 14th day of the
waning moon of Kason) Saturday's Working Peoples' Daily had
announced the declaration of the State Councils on the findings of the
"Some students from Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) and the
people from the West Quarter of Kyo-gone had a tussle, and the Rangoon
Division Peoples' Police Commander in charge had given orders to
disperse the mob with tear gas and if the mob did not disperse and if the
police had to face danger then out of the twelve policemen who were
armed with Remmingtons, a single cartridge was put into the guns and
they were ordered to shoot low, skimming the ground," they had lied to
the public openly. After that, for show, the Prime Minister Maung Maung
Kha, Min Gaung, and Chief of Police Thein Aung were made to resign
from their jobs and Pe Kyi was suspended from his job.
After that the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) committed
blunder after blunder and on 23 July, 1988, (1350, 10th day of the
waxing moon of the 2nd Waso) Saturday, at Saya San Hall, Kyaikasan
ground, Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) Chairman U Ne Win
said "In the months of March and June, 1988, the bloodshed in the
uprising happened because of the people who participated themselves.
The people who encouraged the movements behind the scenes showed
that they do not believe in the party which controls the government . I
feel that I am indirectly responsible for the March and June
incidents.................." As the saying goes "When one is trying to cover the
front, the back is being exposed."
After 18 September, 1988, the army took control of power, and the State
Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC), claiming that they respected
the law, gave a top ranking post to Pe Kyi, who was suspended from his
job as a person who was responsible for the 1988 uprisings. It was not
known which SLORC court decided, but he was awarded a high position
or whatever. After the military had taken control of power on 18
September, 1988, many students joined the indigenous ethnic armed
groups. The All Burma Federation of Students' Union (ABFSU) which was
formed on a temporary basis during the uprising of The Four Eights
continued to be active in three different forms: within the country the All
Burma Federation of Students' Union (ABFSU) functioned as an
underground movement; the Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS)
functioned as a legal political party within the country; the All Burma
Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) in the border areas joined the armed
revolution to fight the policies of the military junta. Though many
students had joined the armed revolutionary groups after the military had
taken over control in 1962, up till 1988 the armed revolution of the
students had not been outstanding.
After the military had taken control of the country on 18 September,
1988, thousands of students had come over to join the armed revolution
of the students. The Students' Army, which had not existed in any country
of the world had come into existence in Burma. From 1988 till 1992 in
the armed revolution of the students many students lost their lives and
they are still doing so.
In November, 1991, the Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS)
opposed the military regime outright and joined the armed revolution en
Therefore, if the movements of the students of Burma were to be viewed
from a historical point then it can be said "The history of the students'
movement is the history of an armed revolution" and it is supported by
the activities of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) and
the Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), which are like beacons
lighting the way.
THE DECEMBER 20TH LAMENTATION
THE COMRADE'S POEM
Hard bitten lips of mine,
Burst, and broken,
Drops of blood,
Came flowing slowly.
I, grind my molars,
Squeeze my hand into a tight fist.
Bo Aung Gyaw,
Had fallen in this place.
If that road could be peeled off,
And according to historical materialism,
We could do research
Scarlet glory would be found.
Who can deny?
About the flowing of Comrade's blood.
Those of you,
Who are denying,
To glorify your many attributes.
Who else would it be?
But the ones whom, you, Comrade hate.
Comrade would have smiled indifferently,
That I believe.
The shine of Spartacus's glory
The rebel of Konbaung Era,
Galon Saya San Ngu Yin Van Troy
Starting with Chequebara
Together with tens of thousands of martyrs
Comrade had shone, red, bright and brilliant.
At the just battle of the people
Comrade, your blood had shone red.
The core of the martyr
In any era
Shall be youthful and fresh
It is definite, I believe.
Bo Aung Gyaw, Comrade
In this place; I had
Distributed the pamphlets, together.
Bo Aung Gyaw, Comrade
I had, In this place
Comrade, paid tribute to you many times.
Comrade's series of battles
About the just battles of Comrade
After coming to this place
Comrade's red blood which had flowed
With my white tears
And courageless sighs
I would not tarnish
Comrade's attributes of glory.
Yes, it is my poem,
A poem to describe
And disclose Comrade's attributes of glory.
Accept it, please Comrade.
I beseech you with a shout.
Let me refuse it,
This poem is not my poem.
Read it and see.
Drops of blood which had flowed
Whose blood was it?
Comrade's warm blood
The blood which had not dried yet.
Oh.......with Comrade's drops, drops of blood.
Strung together into
Maung Lay Aung (Late)
Translated by Aye Mya
I dedicate this article to Ko Aung Gyaw to commemorate on 20th
December 1992 the 54th anniversary of his death. I honour him and bow
my head in respect.
Aung Saw Oo (Hmaing Centenary)
National League for Democracy (Liberated Area)