Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Talking with a leader of Burma's student army

Just updated with a video interview!

"Burma's military regime blames us whenever anything bad happens to them. I'd say that's no small accomplishment," said Myint Oo, member of the Central Executive Committee of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF).

A former member quipped, "ABSDF may well be the world's only remaining student army."

ABSDF, formed in the wake of the 1988 crackdown, celebrated its 19th birthday this month. Wishing to learn more about this organization, I hoped on the back of a member's motorbike.

He drove me to an ABSDF hide-out near the Thai-Burma border.

According to some literature they would hand me, ABSDF currently holds seven camps on the Burma-Thailand border, and two other camps: One of which is on the on the Burma-India border; the other on the Burma-China border. Since 2001, ABSDF has not been exclusively military, but promotes "armed struggle in combination with political activities."

A gate opened, and our bike drove through.

I was escorted into a large mostly empty room. In one corner three men worked behind computers, each glancing up briefly as I entered. On the wall at the other end of the room was a large red flag. Before it was a long metal desk. On the wall were framed pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi and an old Burmese man. On another wall, the obligatory Che poster. We seated ourselves around the desk . . .

Photo and video: Myint Oo of the ABSDF by Jotman.

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