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Myanmar student rebels in ceasefire

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Bangkok Post

Yangon - Myanmar student rebels on Monday signed a ceasefire with the government, days before the 25th anniversary of the 1988 student-led uprising in the country.

More than 40 members of the outlawed All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) attended the peace talks with the government in Yangon.

"We believe this is not the time to be fighting each other," said Myo Win, vice chairman of ABSDF.

"Without a ceasefire, the political problems cannot be solved and we want to focus on the current political problems."

He said the ABSDF will join Thursday's commemoration in Yangon of the so-called 8888 Uprising, a series of marches and protests that began Aug 8, 1988, when students took to the streets in the former capital against the iron-fisted military rule of General Ne Win.

The ABSDF was formed in the aftermath of the subsequent military crackdown on Sept 18, 1988, that left an estimated 3,000 people dead.

More than 8,000 students who had participated in the demonstrations fled to the jungle on the Thai-Myanmar border to escape arrest and imprisonment, where they formed the ABSDF as an armed group on November 1, 1988.

Factions of the ABSDF moved from the border area to Myanmar's turbulent northern Kachin State in the early 1990s to join forces with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Karen National Union, ethnic minority insurgencies.

In 1992 the ABSDF executed and tortured to death some of its own members on charges of spying, sparking outrage from human rights groups.

Many members then defected and returned to Yangon. In recent years, around 700 ABSDF members fought with the KIO against the government's offensive in the state, according to ABSDF sources.

Myanmar has seen significant political change since the democratically elected government of President Thein Sein came to power in March 2011.

His administration has signed ceasefires with a dozen minority insurgent groups.
Source link: http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/363144/

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