Burma’s 88 Generation Students to Form Political Party

Min Ko Naing, the most prominent of the 88 Generation Students, holds a speech at the group’s Rangoon office on March 18. (Photo: Facebook / 88 Generation Students)

RANGOON—Leaders of Burma’s prominent activist group 88 Generation Students said they plan to form a political party to work for democratization, peace and reconciliation in the country. Some in the group however, expressed doubts about joining Burmese party politics.

Although no clear time frame has been set for the plan, the new party is likely to compete in the 2015 national elections.

Min Zay Ya, one of the 88 leaders, said the group would continue to focus on strengthening civil society organizations in Burma, but after 2013 they planned to expand their activities and enter Burmese politics.

“Our group will be working as a political party on one side and as an NGO on the other. We all have agreed on that,” said Min Za Ya. “We certainly have a two-way basic principle, but it is just a preliminary stage at the moment.”

From next year onwards, he said, the popular group would hold meetings to form a political party and decide on a future program for the organization.

According to other reports, the group might even form a party sooner. Htay Kywe, another 88 leader, told the BBC earlier this week that a political organization representing the 88 Generation Students group is likely to emerge this year.

He also said the group wants to see inclusive political reforms in Burma that would allow for political participation of Burmese refugees, exiled political activists and ethnic minorities, many of which are still caught up in decades-long armed rebellions against the central government.

However, according to 88 leader Soe Htun, the group’s members are divided on whether they should enter Burmese politics, with some favoring a focus on only arts, literature and social activities.

“I still don’t want to switch to party politics at all. We still have many things to learn,” said Soe Htun. He added that Min Ko Naing, the most prominent of the group’s leaders, often talked about his interest in promoting literature and arts, and conducting activities to strengthen civil society organizations.

The 88 Generation Students are a loosely organized group of activists who rose to prominence during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Burma, which was brutally crushed by the then military regime.

They have been advocating for political reforms, democratization and national peace and reconciliation in Burma. The group’s members spent years in prison during different periods and many were only released in early 2012.

Some of Burma’s current opposition parties welcomed the news that the 88 Student Generation group would form a political organization, saying it would further strengthen the country’s democratization process and create a more pluralistic political landscape.

“In late 2011, I asked them to come into the political arena,” said Win Tin, a veteran politician and co-founder of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

“I asked them to join the NLD. Even if they can’t ride the same boat with us, I asked them to be part of the same journey. I welcome their plan to form a political party. It is a good thing.”

Zay Ya, a senior organizer for the Democratic Party for a New Society, also supported the idea of the 88 Generation Students leaders becoming politicians.

“I didn’t know about it before but I think is a good idea anyway,” said Zay Ya, adding that the group should create a clear political program before entering Burmese politics. “It is better to speak out clearly before doing anything,” he said.


13 Responses to Burma’s 88 Generation Students to Form Political Party

  1. Wonderful news. Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy.


  2. This is a very happy day for me.

  3. “He also said the group wants to see inclusive political reforms in Burma that would allow for political participation of Burmese refugees, exiled political activists and ethnic minorities, many of which are still caught up in decades-long armed rebellions against the central government.”
    It is a good impression that is ” inclusion of all Burmese refugee, exiled political activists and ethnic minorities”.

  4. Looks like Shwe Mann’s gonna be the next President of Burma, no? (“opposition” is split into small pieces including 135 “ethnics” lol)

  5. Hi readers,
    This is a man from Burma. I have to admit that my grandfather’s friend shot college student Phone Maw. I saw many articles and news about 88 student uprising problem. And I have to admit the truth. My grandfather knew about shooting and there were other witnesses at that time in 1988. I am so sorry about it. I was ten years old at that time. From Burmese investigation dept., investigator Daw Khi Mar Khin and U Kyaw Thi knew exactly what happened on that murder. Actually it was a simple murder. Because before shooting, there was no student uprising. After shooting, the killer was still on the loose and students wanted the killer in jail. (And killer was not a police or soldier, he was a simple citizen, he lived in San Gyaung Township in Yangon) Now he might be 85 or 90 years old. Every time I read the news on this website, I have to admit the truth. That’s it for now. I will tell you more later.
    Thank you.

    • There must be a motive to take someone’s life. I don’t think a private citizen was interested in killing him.Phone Maw got killed during a rough interrogation by an agent.

      • http://moemaka.com/?p=33045
        Hi Mr. Sein, you might see above webpage but something is wrong in webpage, that webpage said Phone Maw died in rough interrogation, that message is wrong, because I saw Phone Maw’s dead body and my grandfather was a exact witness for shooting, at the time of shooting, my grandfather was next to the shooter group and he heard and saw everything.
        Let me tell you why message was wrong in above web link, because the reporter talked to wrong persons, wrong persons mean the killer group controlled the reporting. (real reporter needs to approach to Phone Maw’s family and talk directly)

  6. If they have real confidence of their worth and their capacity, they should form a political party. NGO is only NGO outside of political realm. Our Bogyoke joined the political party as soon as he finished his education and he never doubt about his desire or care about failure or success. He did what he should. I saw the 88 Generation Group was trapped in the COMFORT ZONE, free and luxurious travels, free food, and free everything and temporary good name. They shouldn’t forget ‘Diminishing Return’ one day, sooner or later. I hope they hear my voice!!!!!!!!

    • Please be kind to our brothers and sisters who have already sacrificed so much to help Burma become a free and fair country.

      I believe Gen.88 with stay true to Bogyoke Aung San’s ideas and vision of the Union of Burma. Remember, it is the Tatmadaw that destroyed the dream of federalism soon after the Taunggyi Federal Conference in December 1961.

      The Tatmadaw are scared of true democracy, have shown they have little regard for human rights and stand opposed to federalism. Gen.88 has shown that they are prepared to stand up for true democracy, believe in human rights and want an inclusive Union of Burma.

      The Tatmadaw have failed the people of Burma and simply created a state within a state to enrich themselves. It is time that they returned to the barracks and let the people decide who is going to clean up the mess.

  7. Wonder what happened to the earliest student union members ( In Ne Win’s era. He blew up the R.A.S.U student building in 1963 ) It was before 88 generation. They should not be forgotten. I’m sure some of the activists of that time are still alive somewhere in Burma today. Wherever they may be, we like to honor them equally.

  8. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Bravo boys!
    The TIME HAS COME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT man!
    Since DAY ONE I KNEW WE COULD COUNT ON THEM of course.
    However, you guys should TAKE SOME TIME and LAY OUT STRATEGY/TACTICS for THAT MATTER as well.
    CRAFTING and PLANNING are the KEYS for SUCCESS lest you guys forget.
    Of course SOLIDARITY/UNITY as well is CRUCIAL and PIVOTAL for that matter as well.
    You guys have the EXPERIENCE/EXPERTISE as well to DO the JOB/POLITICS I believe.
    Most importantly YOU GUYS SHOULD REINFORCE YOUR KNOWLEDGE and LEARN the ROPES of the GAME before YOU GO INTO THE RING lest you guys forget.
    For that matter you guys NEED CREDIBLE and TRUSTED/QUALIFIED ADVISERS.
    Of course POLITICS is a GAMBLE/GAME where LIVES are PUT AT RISK/ON LINE as well.
    NO JOKE and it certainly IS NOT for PEOPLE with HALF HEARTS as well of course
    People GAMBLE with their MONEY.
    However, POLITICIANS GAMBLE/PLAY with THEIR LIVES and PEOPLE’S as well including the COUNTRY’S FUTURE lest you guys forget.
    Ne Win,Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Khin Nyunt, Thein Sein and the lot at Naypyidaw HAVE PUT THEIR LIVES on the LINE already.
    And they have LOST and PAYBACK TIME is BECKONING on THEM today of course.
    Hence, they are PUTTING ALL MECHANISMS (2008 constitution, the military and others) IN PLACE not to mention CLINGING ONTO the Chinese communists and Russians’ VETO POWER as well to COVER their ASSES today as evidenced.
    And Suu Kyi is now their SAVIOR no less today.
    On most occasions the RESCUERS LOST THEIR LIVES when SAVING PEOPLE DROWNING as well lest Suu Kyi forgets.
    And a point and lesson to note: IT IS BEST TO LET the TIGER REMAIN in the PIT for the SAFETY of the VILLAGERS like Maung Po DID in a tale we read during our younger days.
    Hence, DISCRETION IS THE BETTER PART of VALOR is my humble SUGGESTION at the moment guys!
    Anyway DO IT and GO FOR IT I say!

  9. It was been my longtime dream. Because ASSK is no longer opposition leader. Burma needed opposition leader who will be the hope for Burmese people. I know their path is no easy, but they will prevail in the long run.

  10. we trying for democracy over 20 years ready.The time i still not born yet.but when i was 20yrs i really hope that our country wil develop.i still hoping until i die for really democracy.

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