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hrwatch pressrelease:kyi maung

For Immediate Release,  October 23, 1996

For further information contact:
Zunetta Liddell, London       + (44) 171 713 1995
Sidney Jones, New York        212 971 8400

                            NEW ARREST IN BURMA

Human Rights Watch/Asia calls for immediate release of Burmese
opposition parliamentarian U Kyi Maung, aged seventy, who was
arrested from his home in Rangoon early this morning, (October
23).  His arrest, apparently in connection with a series of
student protests in Rangoon earlier in the week, is the latest
move in an ongoing crackdown by Burma's State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) against the political opposition.

A Ministry of Defense statement issued after the arrest alleged
that U Kyi Maung had met with two students, Maung Ye Thiha Thwin
and Maung Nyi Nyi Myo, from the Rangoon Institute of Technology
(RIT) and that he had been detained because of that meeting. 
Other reports suggest that U Kyi Maung had met the students in
order to mediate an end to demonstrations that began in the
aftermath of an incident on Sunday October 20, when three
students from the RIT had an argument with a shop owner in Sabwa-
kyi-gone ward, Insein township, Rangoon.  In the ensuing scuffle,
the three were arrested by the local police.  They claim they
were then beaten all night, and the following morning their
fellow students from RIT demonstrated for one hour in Insein
township, demanding an apology from the police.

On Monday evening, when their demands had not been met, over 200
students from the Insein area were reported to have marched to
the main Rangoon University campus, at the corner of Prome Road
and University Avenue.  On Tuesday evening, in the 8 pm news
broadcast, the government radio and television issued their
account of the incident, which the students rejected as
inaccurate.  At around midnight on Tuesday, a group of 500
students gathered at the Prome Road/University Avenue junction,
and conducted a sit-down demonstration.  Most of the students
then left quietly, but at 3:30 am Wednesday morning hundreds of
armed troops forced the remaining students to leave.  The
government has denied arresting any of the students, although
other reports suggest that some 100 students were arrested in
Insein township over the weekend and are still being held at the
Kyaik Kassan sports ground in Rangoon.

U Kyi Maung, an elected member of parliament for the National
League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Nobel Laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi, is reported to have met the leaders of the RIT
students at some time on Tuesday evening in an attempt to mediate
an end to their demonstrations.  U Kyi Maung was briefly acting
chairman of the NLD until his arrest in September 1990.  He then
served five years of a twenty year sentence and was released from
Insein jail in March 1995.  He is also a former colonel in the
Burmese army and served as a military attache to the Burmese
Embassy in London.  It is not known where U Kyi Maung is held,
nor whether he has been charged.

University Avenue, where the student demonstrations took place,
is well-known for being the address of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader
of the NLD.  Barricades and checkpoints have been set up at
either end of University Avenue almost continuously since the
NLD's attempt to hold a party congress on September 27.  The
barricades were reported to have been taken away temporarily on
Monday evening, but were replaced after the demonstrations on
Tuesday night, and were still up late Wednesday afternoon.

In September, the SLORC arrested more than 500 members of the NLD
in an effort to prevent them from holding a meeting.  Most were
held briefly and then released, but the pattern of intimidation
against the opposition continues.