Burmese Activist Urges Action Against Regime

The chair of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) urged students to take action against the oppressive military regime in Burma last night, speaking before an audience of 50 in Emerson Hall.

Prior to the address by Moe Thee Zun, who was also the organizer of the 1988 student uprising in Rangoon, 12 student-activists burned Heineken packages and poured Pepsi into a trash can in front of Widener Library to protest those companies' investments in Burma.

Speaking through interpreter Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the ASBDF, Zun detailed human rights violations by the Burmese military regime and discussed his organization's fight for democracy.

"The people of Burma have had to live under a military regime for over 30 years," Zun said. "We have to find a way so that we can liberate our people from oppression."

Following the address, the event's organizers, Adam K. Richards '96 and Marco B. Simons '97, described the Burma Action Group as a new student organization which plans to hold demonstrations and urge the University to boycott companies with operations in Burma.

"Harvard has the opportunity to really take the lead in this issue," Richards said. The group is planning a demonstration of Boston-area college students against the Burmese government on October 27.

In his speech, Zun detailed political conditions in Burma, explaining he and other student-activists were forced into hiding by the Burmese government after they organized pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988.

He said the government is currently holding 3,000 political prisoners, and that it has committed countless human rights violations, especially on women.

"We have no freedom of speech, we have no freedom of press," Zun said.

Later in his discussion, Zun suggested ways the audience could become involved in the effort to create a democratic government in Burma.

He urged students to boycott companies with factories and investments in Burma, saying that money given to the government ends up in military coffers.

Simon C. Billenness, senior analyst for the Boston-based Franklin Research & Development Corporation, followed Zun's speech with a summary of his efforts to urge state legislators to divest from Burma.

Billenness urged students to write letters to Governor William F. Weld '66 urging him to sign a bill now in the State Senate which would prevent state spending on Burmese products