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RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- In the largest street demonstration in several
years, hundreds of students gathered Tuesday night at a major Rangoon
intersection to protest police brutality. 

The gathering near Rangoon University was peaceful, but showed no
signs of abating early Wednesday morning. No uniformed security
personnel were at the scene, although university officials were on
hand to keep order. 

The students said their protest was not political. But any defiance of
the military regime, which took power in 1988 after violently
suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations, is anathema to the generals
who insist that law and order prevail over democratic rights. 

Although there is an active, if officially powerless, pro-democracy
movement led by 1991 Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, students
have remained relatively quiet in the past few years of military rule
in Burma, also known as Myanmar. 

Traditionally, they had been at the vanguard of political change, a
situation to which the military paid a back-handed tribute in the
early 1960s when they blew up Rangoon University's student union. 

Tuesday night's demonstration, led by students from the Yangon
Institute of Technology -- eight miles from downtown Rangoon --
protested an incident Sunday in which police arrested students
involved in a dispute with a restaurant owner. 

They allegedly beat them badly after taking them to the police
station, and one received a wound requiring 12 stitches. Students said
the quarrel had been settled by the time police arrived. 

On Monday, 40 to 50 students from the institute held a brief
demonstration near Rangoon University, at an intersection of
University Avenue which is a traditional focal point for protests.
They dispersed peacefully. 

The students demanded that the government-controlled news media report
about the allegations of police brutality. 

On Wednesday night's 8 p.m. radio and television news broadcasts, a
brief report about Sunday's incident was read. It claimed the police
had not realized they were dealing with students. But the broadcast
made no mention of the students being beaten. 

In response, some 300 to 400 students returned to the intersection at
about 9:30 p.m. to repeat their demand that the beating incident be
fully and truthfully reported. At about 11:30 p.m., they were joined
by up to 200 students from Rangoon University's Institute of

The students, who appeared well disciplined, sat down and chanted

They insisted they only wanted the truth about the incident to be
told, and said their main demand was ``the peaceful pursuit of