[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Burma junta officials meet oppositi

                                  Burma junta officials meet
                                  opposition figures
                                  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
                                  Suu Kyi.

                                  ``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
                                  Technology (YIT).

                                  ``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
                                  on Thursday.

                                  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
                                  situation normalised.

                                  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
                                  tumbling currency.

                                  ``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.