Youths must 'get political’, NLD says

A perceived lack of political awareness and interest among Burmese youths is potentially damaging to the future direction of the country, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has warned.

Young Burmese are being “swayed from politics by entertainment and materialist interests”,  the head of the NLD general-secretary’s office, Win Htein, said yesterday during a celebration of veteran politician U Tin’s birthday.

He added that party leader Aung San Suu Kyi had developed concerns about the lack of a politicised youth in Burma where the median age remains relatively young, at 28 years.

The Nobel laureate is next week due to meet hundreds of young Burmese from across the country who are active in social and humanitarian work.

Since her release from house arrest in November last year, Suu Kyi has made engagement with Burma’s youth a priority and has spoken of her intentions to bring herself up to date with youth fads, such as social networking.

Win Htein said that the party would “make an effort to spread the idea among them that they play an important role in the country’s future politics”.

He acknowledged however that youngsters are hesitant to get involved in politics, a potentially dangerous venture in Burma where any sign political mobilisation can draw the wrath of the ruling regime.

University students were at the vanguard of the infamous 1988 uprising, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest economic mismanagement and government oppression. Up to 6000 were gunned down by the military.

Numbers of underground youth activist groups still exist, but their actions are closely monitored by the junta. With a new parliament and, ostensibly, a new political landscape, however, Suu Kyi has urged young Burmese to lend their voice to open debate about the country’s future.

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