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Burma junta officials meet oppositi
- Subject: Burma junta officials meet oppositi
- From: Winston_Lee@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 11:03:00
Burma junta officials meet
09:45 a.m. Dec 18, 1997 Eastern
RANGOON, Dec 18 (Reuters) -
Burma's ruling military government
on Thursday told the opposition
National League for Democracy
(NLD) to stop holding mass
gatherings or risk losing meaningful
The warning came at a meeting
between officials of the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) led
by Home Affairs Minister Colonel Tin
Hlaing and five central executive
committee members of the NLD, led
by pro-democracy activist Aung San
``At the meeting the SPDC reminded
the NLD leaders to review the mass
gatherings they have been holding
under various pretexts at various
places in recent months,'' a
government statement said.
The SPDC also asked the NLD to
refrain from making accusations and
statements protesting against the
government's security measures.
``If they keep on doing this, the
chances of dialogue and national
reconciliation, which the NLD has
been talking about, would go further
and further away,'' the statement
There was no immediate reaction
from the NLD to the meeting, the first
between the two sides since the
government changed its name last
month from the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC).
The military has in the past prevented
Suu Kyi from attending mass party
gatherings, which are also sometimes
cancelled by the government. It has
also detained and later released
hundreds of NLD activists.
The last time NLD officials met
military government leaders was in
July, when NLD chairman U Aung
Shwe and two central committee
members met the powerful Secretary
One Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt
to discuss political issues.
A further meeting was set for
September 16 but did not take place
because the military refused to allow
Suu Kyi to attend the meeting as a
representative of the NLD.
Burma Related Story:
One year on, Burmese
students still out of school
08:15 a.m. Dec 18, 1997 Eastern
By Aung Hla Tun
RANGOON, Dec 18 (Reuters) -
Burma's students are frustrated and
restless, one year after the military
government shut down the country's
universities to prevent unrest.
``Our institute was closed a few days
before our final exam was to be held,''
said Aye Aye Tin, a final-year student
at the Yangon (Rangoon) Institute of
``As it has been one year since we
left our classes we can't help
wondering when we'll be able to
resume our studies,'' she told Reuters
About 200,000 students were pushed
off more than 30 universities and
colleges in early December, 1996
after a series of anti-government
The protests were the largest seen in
Burma since nationwide
pro-democracy uprisings in 1988,
which were brutally crushed by the
military before it seized control of the
The then ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) closed
schools for two years as punishment,
but reopened them until the 1996
``I do understand the security concern
of the government,'' said Yaw Aye, a
mid-ranking government officer and
the father of an out-of-school student.
``At the same time, I feel very sorry
for the loss of time, energy, human
resources and everything which
results from closing the universities
for such a long time.''
The December protests were sparked
by what students say was unfair
police handling of a quarrel in October
between students of IT, one of
Rangoon's top universities, and
workers from a restaurant.
The government later blamed
underground agents of the disbanded
Burma Communist Party of fanning
the demonstrations which later spread
to dozens of universities and colleges
across the country.
The SLORC closed the institutions,
saying they would reopen when the
Last month, the government
reconstituted itself as the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC), in
a surprise reshuffle reportedly aimed
at rooting out corrupt ministers.
But there has been no indication
whether the new name would result in
any change in policy on universities.
So for now, some children of well-off
families in big cities still occupy
themselves by attending private-run
computer or foreign language classes
during their time off.
But it is not easy with a sinking
economy, sky-high inflation and a
``I can't afford to send my son to such
expensive classes nor can I find him a
temporary job,'' said Kyaw Aye.
A Ministry of Education official told
Reuters only two tertiary institutions
had reopened completely, affecting
about 2,600 students. Some
post-graduate classes had also
``But I still have no idea when
undergraduate classes at about 30
remaining institutions will reopen,'' he
An official from the Ministry of
Science and Technology, responsible
for YIT and other technological
institutes which have a total of about
7,000 students, gave a similar
``We don't know yet when the
universities under our ministry will
reopen,'' he said.
Many students are hoping for news
about the schools in the New Year.