Students Demand the Right to Form Unions

A group of students publicly distributed leaflets near a crowded junction in Rangoon on Wednesday, June 7th, urging people to boycott the junta’s forthcoming elections and calling for the freedom to legally form student unions.

According to a witness, the seven students gathered around 10 a.m.  near Hledan Junction in Kamayut Township. They then started handing out leaflets that “called for the right to organize student unions legally, boycott of the ‘fake’ election and to oppose the military dictatorship”, according to the witness interviewed by Mizzima.

The students also handed out the leaflets to passengers waiting at bus stops, according to an official from the umbrella division of the Ministry of Industry No. 1.

Not surprisingly for a nation as oppressed as Burma, some people refused to take the leaflets or dropped them when they realized what the leaflets were calling for.

“I saw students distributing the leaflets. I was curious to know what they said,” a young man told Mizzima. But when he realized what the leaflets were about, he “felt nervous to take it so [he] dropped it”.

Such is the grim reality of Burma where people live in a constant state of fear of their government. But this reality also highlights the remarkable determination and courage of the students who dare to voice the grievances and concerns of the voiceless.

The gathering also commemorated the 48th anniversary of the July 7 massacre at Rangoon University in 1962, during the dictatorship of late General Ne Win.

In 1962, students from Rangoon University staged peaceful protests on July 7 against the Ne Win government, citing anger at “unjust university rules”. Ne Win sent troops to disperse the uprising, at which they shot dozens of students dead and dynamited the historic Student Union building the next morning with students still inside.

This gathering in Rangoon came just two days after a peaceful demonstration also led by students on Monday, June 5th, where hundreds of students from Technological University and Computer University in Sittwe gathered at the city center to protest against the 100 percent hike in bus fare.

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