Student protest leader forms political group

YANGON — Former members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions on Friday announced the formation of a new political organisation, but refused to confirm whether they will formally register as a political party.

The Social Democratic United Front will focus on peace, national development, abolishing the constitution and fighting “neo-colonialism”, according to its founders.

The group’s leader is Kyaw Ko Ko, a former chairman of the central working committee of the ABSFU – one of the most senior positions in the organisation, which is better known by its Myanmar-language acronym Ba Ka Tha.

“We’re not political party – you can call it a political organisation,” Kyaw Ko Ko said in response to a question from Frontier about the group’s status. “It’s also not Ba Ka Tha in a new form.”

However, he did not rule out the possibility of registering as a political party in the future.

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“In the future, people will know and describe our organisation based on what we are doing,” Kyaw Ko Ko said.

The organisation has four other founding members. Moe Htet Nay and Thiha Win Tin are also former ABFSU members, while Kyaw Kyaw and Myo Ko Ko are both human rights activists.

Kyaw Ko Ko rose to prominence during the protests against the National Education Law in late 2014 and early 2015. Many of the movement’s leaders were ABFSU members and were arrested when police violently cracked down on demonstrators at the town of Letpadan, in Bago Region, on March 10, 2015, while they were marching from Mandalay to Yangon.

After going into hiding, Kyaw Ko Ko was arrested on October 29, 2015, by plainclothes police while riding a bus in Yangon. He was released on April 8, 2016, after charges against him and other activists were dropped. 

By Mratt Kyaw Thu

By Mratt Kyaw Thu

Mratt is a Senior Reporter at Frontier. He began his career at Unity Weekly Journal in 2010 and focuses on political reporting. In 2017 he won the Agence France-Presse Kate Webb prize for his coverage of ethnic strife in Myanmar.
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