YANGON, Myanmar -- Authorities in Myanmar temporarily detained more than 20 political activists ahead of a planned commemoration yesterday of the 50th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on students.
Although all were freed after about a day, their colleagues said the detentions were proof that the government remains repressive despite the president's widely praised reforms.
Kyaw Ko Ko, leader of the All Burma Federation of Students Union, said 23 people were arrested in the crackdown, which began Friday night. His group had organized the commemoration.
On July, 7, 1962, students in Rangoon, the former name of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, staged a protest against the military regime. Their protest was suppressed by force, and on July 8, the army blew up the student union building at Rangoon University. It is believed that dozens of students were killed in the crackdown.
Sithu Maung, 25, a student activist who was one of those detained, said the student group insisted its intention was not to create unrest but to remember the fallen heroes and let a new generation know the history of the student movement.
Ne Win's 1962 coup was the beginning of almost five decades of repressive military rule.
Current President Thein Sein, a former general, came to power with military backing after a 2010 general election. He has initiated reforms, including reconciliation with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the country's pro-democracy movement, that are intended to boost economic development and have been well received by the international community. -- AP