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88 Generation Students mull forming political party

A famous group of former political prisoners who have been heavily canvassing the country for more than a year may establish a political party soon.

The leadership of the 88 Generation Students, who recently rebranded themselves as the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, are considering forming a political party, but have not made a final decision, according to the one of the group’s leading members.

During a interview with BBC Burmese earlier this week, one of the groups leading members said that the creation of a new political party that would include the 88 Generation Students’ members was necessary to aid the country’s democratic transition.

“In order to establish genuine democracy, it is necessary to organise a combined force of 88 Generation members and all 88 generation [people] to implement national reconciliation and peace,” Htay Kywe told BBC Burmese earlier this week.

However, it remains unclear, which of the group’s upper echelon is considering entering the country’s political landscape

During an interview with the group’s administrator Zaw Min, the 88 Generation Students’ member refused to comment on which individuals are considering joining or creating a political party.

Zaw Min went on to add that the group remains focused on promoting civil rights and justice as a civil society organisation.

“While Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is working for politics in the parliament, we are working [outside the parliament] to promote civil rights – by allowing people to get involved in the democratic transition. If required for the political transition, we are ready to fulfil any role,” said Zaw Min.

In a report published by the International Crisis Group (ICG) last November, the think tank warned that the domination of a single party in the 2015 general elections would be detrimental to the country. It also mentioned that the 88 Generation Students would likely form a political party.

“If the post-2015 legislatures fail to represent the true political and ethnic diversity of the country, tensions are likely to increase,” read the report.

“The marginalisation of non-NLD democratic forces will only make this more difficult. This is particularly true of the 88 Generation group, who has a strong national constituency. Its members have not yet established a political party, but are likely to do so prior to the 2015 election.”

The report went on to say the 88 Generation Students had ‘difficult’ relations with the major opposition party the National League for Democracy, which is “dismissive of other democratic parties”.

Several of the group’s leading members first came to prominence while participating in the 1988 uprising against Ne Win’s military government.

The activists were imprisoned for their participation in the popular protests, but later founded the 88 Generation Students in 2005.

A majority of the group’s leadership was jailed for participating in the Saffron Revolution in 2007, but was then released from prison during a major presidential amnesty in January 2012.

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