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Burma’s 88 students seek official stamp

Members of an activist group born out of the infamous 1988 uprising in Burma say they may look to seek official status as a political or philanthropic organisation.

Several members of the 88 Generation Students, as the group is known, were released from prison during an amnesty in October, some of whom had been in jail for more than two decades.

Ko Ko Gyi, not to be confused with the group’s leader of the same name, told DVB that he and others included in the amnesty had met with the families of the 88 leaders who remained in detention and discussed the prospect of registering.

“We should work as a legitimate organisation – not for ourselves but so that we are ready for our leaders are released from prison,” he said. “We could be a political organisation or maybe just a philanthropic organisation.

“We have told the family members of our brothers to ask for their opinion when they visit them at the prison.”

One of Burma’s most famous political prisoners, Min Ko Naing, co-founded the 88 Generation Students’s group and played a pivotal role in both the 1988 uprising and in fomenting the September 2007 protests. He is currently serving a 65-year sentence.

Ko Ko Gyi said the group would not register as a political party until all the leaders are released from prison. Nearly 30 members of the group remain behind bars, their presence there continuing to cause anger among family members and colleagues.

“My husband said he and his collages should be released at time like this since they were detained without committing any crime,” said Cho Cho Win, wife of jailed leader Min Zeya.

Although operating on the sidelines of Burma’s political arena, and still subject to threats from the government, the group remains an influential force in Burma, something that the continued detention of its leaders bears testament to.

Its members are seen as key players in the early stages of the September 2007 uprising when they organised various civil disobedience campaigns in a rare and direct challenge to the then ruling junta.

Such a history pits them as among the more hardline faction of Burma’s pro-democracy movement, meaning their chances of becoming an official organisation may be resisted by the powers that be.


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