Delegates from student army meet with former comrades

Delegates from student army meet with former comrades

The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) delegation visiting Burma met with representatives from the 88 Generation Students in Rangoon to discuss political strategies and hosting a potential convention in the reforming country.

“It was a cordial meeting with our brothers and comrades. This morning, we shared experiences with each other and discussed [ways] to cooperate more,” said 88 Generation Students’ Htay Kywe.

“Considering the current political situation, there’s a lot in common between us. We had a long discussion about bringing peace in ethnic regions – what the ethnic people want and also the demands from the UNFC [The United Nationalities Federal Council].”

The two sides also tossed around the idea of hosting a convention for the country’s democratic and ethnic organisations to discuss peace building in the war-torn nation.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with the Democratic Party for New Society, which was formed in 1990 by student activists and led by the future ABSDF chairman Moe Thee Zun before he fled the country and took the reigns of the student armed struggle against the military government.

The nine-member delegation arrived in Burma yesterday for a study tour to assess the country’s ongoing political reforms.

The delegation, led by the ABSDF’s chairperson Than Ke, is also set to travel to Naypyidaw during their two-week trip to talk with government officials. The representatives will also reunite with friends and families, whom they’ve been separated from for more than two decades.

The ABSDF is still recognised by the Burmese government as an unlawful association, while members of the student army continue to engage in skirmishes alongside the Kachin Independence Army as the allied forces fight against government troops in Kachin state.

The delegation from the armed group previously met with the government’s Peace Making Committee on three separate occasions this year.

The ABSDF was formed by university students who took up arms against the Burmese government after the 1988 uprising and following crackdown.

At its peak in the 1990s, the student army had about 10,000 members, and waged a guerrilla campaign against government forces largely from the mountains of Karen state and the Kachin highlands.

The ABSDF’s state visit comes as several exiled groups venture back into Burma to meet with non-state actors and government officials.

Thailand-based activist group the Women’s League of Burma (WLB) wrapped up their seven-day tour of the country earlier this week.

The group’s General Secretary Tin Tin Nyo said there are no current plans for the organisation to return to Burma and register. The WLB said it would continue to manage its operations out of Thailand for the time being.

-Min Lwin and Aye Nai contributed reporting. 

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