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On 7 July 1962, students at Rangoon University staged a peaceful demonstration to protest the institution’s lackluster education standards and unfair university regulations imposed by President Ne Win.
The protest was violently suppressed by the newly installed military junta, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 students.
The next day the army blew up the Students Union building, where students were taking refugee. The day would go down in history as the 7 July Students Massacre.
On Monday, the All Burma Federation of Students Unions (ABSFU) organised a march of around 100 people through the university campus to commemorate the tragedy.
The group carried flags, banners and laid wreaths of flowers, remembering those who had lost their lives 52 years ago.
Former political prisoner Khin Win remembers trying to commemorate the massacre from behind bars.
“In prison, when they knew we were planning to mark 7th July, the prison officers would nab us and throw us in dog cages ahead of time so that we couldn’t do anything the next day,” he said.
“Now all of us, including the old students, are gathering here together.”
Speaking to DVB last year, veteran journalist and eye-witness Khin Maung Lay recounted what he saw. “The army came roaring in with tanks and soldiers in trucks,” he said. “The students had lookouts deployed and we heard them shouting: ‘The army is here! The army is here!’ I couldn’t believe what was happening and headed to the girls’ dorms to see what was going on there. The gate was shut and it was totally dark.
“The female students let me in the dorm. One sharp and smart activist, Ma Kyi Aye, told me: ‘Let the soldiers come in with their guns. We have done nothing. We will remain here until they drag us out’. But when the soldiers came, we all ran.”
The following day, after the massacre, Khin Maung Lay said he went to Kamayut police station. “I saw them dragging students – females first – into trucks,” he said. “My friend Ma Kyi Aye was among them. And then she was gone.”