Burma closes universities after arresting Aung San Suu Kyi02/06/2003 - 09:49:45
Burmese authorities turned away students from universities today, suspending classes just days after they arrested pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and closed her party’s offices.
The crackdown on Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy follows a violent clash on Friday between her supporters and thousands of pro-government protesters, which officials said left four people dead and 50 injured.
University sources said authorities suspended classes at all universities and colleges run by the Ministry of Education. No reason was given for the closures, they said.
Burma’s university campuses have been hotbeds of pro-democracy activism in the past. After intermittent closures since 1988, they were shut down after 1996 student demonstrations and remained closed until mid-2000.
Students at the gates of the University of Foreign Language in the capital Rangoon said no prior notice was given about the suspension of classes.
“I am surprised and disappointed with the closure. I am about the get my degree in another four months,” said one student who asked not to be named.
It was not immediately known whether the closures were related to the ongoing crackdown on Suu Kyi and the NLD.
The junta said on Saturday that it had placed the Nobel Prize winner and 19 members of her party into “protective custody” after Friday’s clash between her supporters and pro-government protesters.
The scheduled reopening of the country’s primary and high schools, which was earlier delayed by authorities because of “intense summer heat this year” and to ease parents’ concerns about SARS, has been further postponed by two weeks.
The schools are scheduled to reopen on July 1 instead of June 16, a school teacher said.
Despite the Suu Kyi detention, a UN special envoy who brokered talks between her and the military junta will proceed with a planned visit to the country, an aide said today.
Razali Ismail, a veteran Malaysian diplomat, believed it was “not prudent” for him to comment publicly for now on the detention of Suu Kyi – the widow of an Oxford don – and the closure of her National League for Democracy’s offices last weekend, the aide said.
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