by Aung Saw Oo (Hmaing Centenary)
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 Independence.
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:
- to be able to live in a society where one can work for better living standards of the society,
- to be able to live a life in which one can depend upon oneself and work independently,
- 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 the Union.
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 MandalayUniversity 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 upon.
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 sustained injuries.
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 monks:
“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 inconsolably.
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 Gyaw.
“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 independence.
“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:
- To get full independence from the yoke of the British colonial policy and
- 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 them.
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 about.
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 changed.
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 till today.
Therefore, the history of the post-war students’ movement had various levels of significance:
- It was the continuation of the students’ movement under the colonialist era, still trying to perform the unfinished duties.
- It was a segment of the Peoples’ fight against the colonialist, for complete national independence, and the fight to maintain national independence.
- It was the history of the fight of the students and the people for peace within the country, so that they could study peacefully.
- It was the history of the protection of the rights of the students and the rights of democracy in general.
- 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 organization.
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 blood.
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 Enquiry Commission
“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 mass.
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)
Burma Library: National League for Democracy (Liberated Area)