Myanmar students rally for rights

October 26, 1995

Hundreds of students in Rangoon have defied the military government of Myanmar (Burma), to honour the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

They gathered in front of her home to celebrate a traditional Myanmese Buddhist festival, in which young people honour their teachers and elders. The "ceremony of respect" was in effect an affirmation by the students of the principles of democracy and human rights for which Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for six years.

One of the organisers of the event, Maung Maung Wan, said that members of the military government had been invited to take part but instead told the students to cancel the ceremony.

Following the ritual, Aung San Suu Kyi came out of her house and reiterated her call for the release of political prisoners and the opening of a dialogue between the military and pro-democracy leaders. Whether any action will be taken against the students is unclear. However, the day following the ceremony, Japanese news agency Kyodo carried what was evidently a hint to the Myanmese authorities - a lengthy dispatch linking the improvement of the human rights situation in Myanmar, as demonstrated by the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in July, with the upsurge of interest in investing in Myanmar shown by Japanese companies over the past three months.

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