Student Leader Arrested Following July 7 Commemoration
By Kyaw Phyo Tha 7 July 2015
RANGOON — One of five student leaders charged with unlawful assembly for a protest in Rangoon last week was arrested on Tuesday after he attended a commemoration marking a military crackdown on students at Rangoon University more than five decades ago.
Zeya Lwin, president of the Confederation of University Student Unions (CUSU), was arrested following the July 7 event held at Rangoon University on Tuesday afternoon, according to Pho Tha, also known as Zaw Lin Htut, CUSU’s information officer.
Swan Kaung, a CUSU member from Dagon University who was with Zeya Lwin at the time of his arrest, told The Irrawaddy that the latter was pulled from his car by police as the vehicle was stopped at traffic lights near the corner of Inya and Pyay roads.
“At the traffic light our car was sandwiched by two other cars. Plainclothes police grabbed hold of Zeya Lwin,” Swan Kaung said, adding that he fled the car to escape arrest.
Zeya Lwin has been in hiding since an arrest warrant was issued regarding his involvement in a protest in downtown Rangoon on June 30 against the ongoing presence of unelected military representatives in the nation’s parliament.
Last week, police arrested Paing Ye Thu, one of four other activists charged with unlawful assembly over the same case.
CUSU’s Pho Tha told The Irrawaddy that three of the activists, including Paing Ye Thu and Zeya Lwin, are also facing charges under Article 505(b) of Burma’s Penal Code for making statements likely to cause “fear or alarm to the public.
” “The third one, Nan Lin, is still at large,” he said.
Zeya Lwin appeared at an event at Rangoon University on Tuesday held to mark 53 years since a violent military crackdown on the campus claimed dozens of students’ lives. The students had been protesting military interference in the university’s governing council.
The following day, on July 8, the army dynamited Rangoon University’s historic Student Union building. It has never been rebuilt.
Nearly 60 students attended the peaceful event on Tuesday, marching from near Hledan junction to the former Student Union building site on the university campus to pay respect to their fallen comrades.
They laid roses nearby the site that were sprayed with black paint to convey their “sorrow.”
In his speech at the event, Zeya Lwin said for him, July 7 was “the day when the military kicked the people’s chests with their army boots.”
“We will never forgive the army for what they did. So I have to repeat my demand: Leave from the Parliament,” he said.
Although the event was blocked by university authorities and riot police, the students were able to negotiate with them and confirmed that the hour-long event was a commemoration, not a protest.
Min Thu Kyaw, one of the event organizers, struck a defiant note despite the arrest of his colleague.
“We are just doing what we believe. We all know we could be arrested but we can’t stay silent. We have many things to do and there will be more arrests too,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Additional reporting by Zin No No Zaw.