On This Day

When a White Bridge Ran Red With Students' Blood

By The Irrawaddy 16 March 2019

Thirty-one years ago today on Pyay Road in Yangon, Tada Phyu —”the white bridge” in Burmese — ran red with the blood of student protesters caught in a brutal government crackdown

The order to disperse the students came from U Sein Lwin, who would become president four months later. He was dubbed the “Butcher of Rangoon” for his brutal suppression of successive student-led demonstrations in what was the nation’s capital at the time.

According to some reports, riot police beat and threw students into Inya Lake and stole their jewelry.

Students from Rangoon University were staging a protest march to the Hlaing University campus in response to the military’s raid on the Rangoon Institute of Technology on March 13. Their protest helped spark a popular pro-democracy uprising in August that year.

Dozens of students were killed and injured and hundreds were detained. The event later came to be known among activists as the “red bridge” incident, as the area was turned red with blood.

As people joined the students after the crackdown, the government made more arrests. On Mar 18, 41 of 71 arrested demonstrators being taken to Insein Prison suffocated inside a sealed truck.