News / Asia

1988 Generation Students Group Backing Aung San Suu Kyi

Recently-released leader of the 1988 Generation Students Min Ko Naing addresses media representatives during a press conference in Yangon, January 21, 2012.
Recently-released leader of the 1988 Generation Students Min Ko Naing addresses media representatives during a press conference in Yangon, January 21, 2012.

The leaders of Burma's failed 1988 democratic uprising are putting their faith in pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The recently freed leaders of the "88 Generation Students Group" on Saturday voiced support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD). Group leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi said they agreed with her decision to participate in the election and that she would have their support in April's parliamentary by-election.

Some Burmese and some analysts fear Burma's military-backed government is using Aung San Suu Kyi and the recent release of hundreds of political prisoners to gain legitimacy even as the military clings to power. But the leaders of the "88 Generation Students Group" said they would work with President Thein Sein and other officials and political parties, provided they continue to pursue democratic reforms.

Burma's new military-backed government has been reaching out to the West and recently hosted both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Also Saturday, leaders of a Burmese ethnic rebel group praised a recent cease-fire with the government as a good start.

General Mutu Saipo with the Karen National Union (KNU) made the comment during a gathering near the Thai border.

Talks between the government and Karen National Union leaders intensified last year, as the new, nominally-civilian government publicly offered the possibility of reconciliation with a myriad of ethnic groupings.

Karen leaders say years of government aggression have subjected their people to human rights abuses that include forced labor, looting, extortion and destruction of property. Thousands of villagers have been forced to flee to escape the fighting, with many of them currently living in refugee encampments just across the Thai border.

Burma's long-reigning military junta, which stepped aside last year, justified its crackdown by saying it was a way of maintaining stability and unity.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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