All eight activists – five students and three 88 Generation members – who were detained at Thursday’s crackdown in Rangoon, have now been released.
According to a representative of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) civic group, the eight were released from Yankin police station at around 6am after spending the night detained. They were taken into custody on Thursday afternoon after police and pro-government thugs attacked protestors on Maha Bandula Road, in front of City Hall and Sule Pagoda.
The eight were named as: students Tin May Kyaw, Zin Min Phyo, Hein Htet Aung, Zaw Lin Htut and Pyae Thaw; and 88 GPOS members Nilar Thein, Nu Nu Aung and Myo Thant.
The violence broke out after a group of around 200 students and activists were set upon, first by pro-government “security volunteers”, and then by baton-wielding police at a major intersection in Rangoon, and the site of a similar bloody massacre in 1988.
The pro-government volunteers, widely described as “thugs” on Burmese social media, have not been identified as belonging to any particular group, but observers are claiming they were members of the Swan Arr Shin organisation. Most were young men wearing red armbands with the word “Duty” emblazoned.
Speaking to DVB on Thursday evening, Burma’s Information Minister Ye Htut rejected reports that Swan Arr Shin was involved, and denied that the group still existed.
The Rangoon demonstration had been initiated on Tuesday in solidarity with a marching column of student protesters barricaded by police in the Pegu Division town of Letpadan. Police had blocked the students from continuing on their march, which originated in Mandalay, when student leaders insisted they would take their rally to Rangoon.
Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, activist Moe Thway, an organiser of the rally in the former capital, said: “Rangoon is a city owned by the public and it should be open to every member of the public. We believe that it is completely unfair to block the student protestors from entering the city.”
Track the chronology of the student protests with DVB’s interactive map.