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Myanmar Activists Mark 1962 Military Crackdown on Students

Myanmar students participate in a ceremony marking the 53rd anniversary of a 1962 student uprising at Yangon University, Myanmar, July 7, 2015

Activists in Myanmar have gathered to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the military crackdown on a student uprising and the demolition of the historic Student Union Building at Yangon University.

About 20 people gathered peacefully in the morning to recall the 1962 crackdown and later in the day another 50 protested the military's continued involvement in politics.

Zaw Lin Aung, student activist of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, told VOA the group is angry about the military's presence in parliament, where it is guaranteed 25 percent of the seats under the 2008 constitution.

“We commemorate this special day for two reasons: we want to express that the military dictatorship that started with General Ne Win's era still exists now; and another is to remember the historic event in which a student union building was demolished and students were killed,” said Zaw Lin Aung.

Police Colonel Zaw Win said authorities asked the group to disperse, but were ignored.

“They don't have official permission for the protest and so we said they need to ask permission first," he said. "When we tried to stop them, they said they will face legal action later, but they continued. So we will take action against them in accordance with the laws."

After the commemoration one prominent student activist, Zaya Lwin, was detained by police on his way back home.

Myanmar's military seized power in 1962, sparking nearly half a century of authoritarian rule until political reforms began in 2011.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service.