New Book Documents the Struggle of Burma’s Student Army

By Nyein Nyein 10 April 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A book about the once-outlawed student army of Burma, entitled “Struggle for Peace: The 25 Year Journey of the ABSDF,” will launch on Thursday evening in Bangkok.

The ABSDF, or the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, formed after the 1988 uprising in Burma to wage an armed struggle in support of democracy. The armed group signed ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government in August 2013.

“Struggle for Peace,” which took more than a year to compile, tells the stories of 36 ABSDF members and was published by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), a Cambodia-based NGO.

The ABSDF and the CPCS will also hold a panel discussion during the book launch at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Thursday evening.

Emma Leslie, head of the CPCS, told The Irrawaddy that the book helps to explain how the ABSDF “carried their ideals, visions and values through their struggle.”

“The other reason we produced it was to be able to tell the next generation about the horror of war and how they can journey toward peace,” she said.

The book discusses some dark moments in the group’s history, including a mass killing in 1992 known as the “Kachin Massacre.” In February of that year, dozens of ABSDF members in northern Burma’s Kachin State were murdered by their own comrades after being accused of serving as spies for the junta. Since 2011, family members of the victims have decried the killing and called for justice.

“The book talks about all the stories the ABSDF went through. Of course the northern case is an important part of their history,” said Leslie. “They have apologized for that part of their history.”

“Struggle for Peace,” will be available in both English and Burmese languages for US$20. A separate book launch ceremony will be held in Rangoon on April 29.