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Students protest rise in bus fares

Around 1000 students took to the streets in northern Burma in a daring show of anger at the government’s doubling of bus fares.

Public defiance of the ruling junta is often snuffed out quickly, but the demonstration in the Sagaing division capital of Kalay met with success. Four demands laid down by students, which included the reduction of bus fares from 200 kyat ($US0.20) to the former price of 100 kyat ($US0.10), were reportedly agreed to by authorities there.

Eye-witnesses said that hordes of protestors from three different universities – Kalay University, Kalay Technological University and the University of Computer Studies, Kalay – gathered at an intersection near to the train station on Bogyoke Road in the centre of town early Tuesday before marching in rows of five or six to a nearby army office.

There the students’ complaints were voiced to senior army officials who passed the details on to government officials. Protestors had also asked for a timely bus service and enough transport to cover the city’s student population.

During the September 2007 monk-led uprising, the ruling junta banned public gatherings of more than five people in a move aimed unsuccessfully at quelling what eventually became the biggest show of defiance against the generals since the 1988 uprising.

Why no arrests were made after Tuesday’s protests is unclear.

It was a dramatic hike in prices of fuel that sparked the 2007 uprising, while dire economic conditions in the late 1980s paved the way for an uprising in which more than 3,000 people were killed by government troops.


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