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Myanmar: The All Burma Student Union (ABSU) (January 1998 to January 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1999
Citation / Document Symbol BUR31080.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Myanmar: The All Burma Student Union (ABSU) (January 1998 to January 1999), 1 January 1999, BUR31080.E, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


In March 1998, in a TV Myanmar report, Colonel Kyaw Thein of the Strategic Studies Department of the Defence Ministry stated that Aung Tun, an All Burma Students Union (ABSU) leader, had aided some members of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) who had been arrested by the Burmese authorities for involvement in "terrorist plots and subversive agitation" (1 Mar. 1998). The report adds that Aung Tun's participation in the activities included the illegal printing and distribution of leaflets entitled: "Political History" and "First Hand Experience." Aung Tun had also provided youth members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Nobel-laureate Daw Suu Kyi [Aung San], with "personal security detail for Daw Suu Kyi" and assisted these youths to go underground and join the ABSDF.

In May 1998, an 80-year-old adviser to Daw Suu Kyi, Thakhin Ohn Myint, was sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act and for aiding ABSU's Aung Tun (Democratic Voice of Burma 5 May 1998). The report states the Aung Tun had recently been sentenced to 15 years for "writing the history of the Burmese student movement." The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) stated during a news conference that Myint allegedly convinced Aung Tun to write about the student movement and had provided him with the relevant documentation (ibid.).

AFP reported in October 1998 that the ABSU was among the groups involved in "an alleged international plot to incite anarchy and topple the military government"        (7 Oct. 1998). In connection with this crime, government authorities arrested 54 individuals of the NLD, the ABSU, the ABSDF, the Karen National Union and the Thai group, ASEAN Network of Burma (ibid.).

In another TV Myanmar report, Air Force Colonel Thein Swe of the Office of Strategic Studies reported a number of events during a news conference detailing NLD's involvement in "all kinds of tactics and pusuing a course that would result in confrontation and collision with the government" (7 Oct. 1998). In his report, he stated that some members of the ABSU had collaborated with other "dissident organizations" to assist the NLD in carrying out their "seditious movements." For example, the colonel reported that hardcore ABSU member, Myo Min Zaw, had attempted to "create disturbances in support of the NLD demand to convene parliament and to object to the ongoing university and college examinations." According to the colonel, Myo Min Zaw had allegedly distributed "seditious leaflets" calling for the reconvening of parliament and had staged a protest with other dissidents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 7 October 1998. "Myanmar Arrests 54 Over Anti-Government 'Plot'." (NEXIS)

Democratic Voice of Burma [Oslo, in Burmese]. 5 May 1998. "Eighty-Year-Old NLD Adviser Sentenced to Seven-Year Term." (FBIS-EAS-98-126 6 May 1998/WNC)

TV Myanmar [Rangoon, in Burmese]. 7 October 1998. "News Conference Details NLD 'Scheme'. (FBIS-EAS-98-281 8 Oct. 1998/WNC)

_____. 1 March 1998. "Opposition Students Accused of 'Terrorist Plots'." (BBC Summary 3 Mar. 1998/NEXIS)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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