1962 Rangoon University Protests

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1962 Rangoon University Protests
1962 Rangoon University Protests.jpg
Date 7 July 1962 (1962-07-07) – 1963 (1963)
Location Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar)
Causes unjust university rules
Methods Civil resistance, demonstrations, nonviolent resistance
Status violently suppressed
Death(s) 17- 130[1][2]
Injuries Unknown
Arrested Unknown

1962 Rangoon University Protests were a series of marches, demonstrations, protests against 'unjust university rules' in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar). The military government broke up demonstrations which led to dozens of students being shot dead and the historic Rangoon University Student Union building being dynamited to rubble.[3]


On 2 March 1962, the military led by General Ne Win took control of Burma through a coup d'état and formed Union Revolutionary Council. The 1962 crackdown came three months after Ne Win seized power.

On May 1962, a student was expelled from his hostel because he did not get on well his warder. On 9 May, some students were arrested for demonstrating at the Dutch Embassy. On 11 May, the Rangoon University Rector was resigned due to the pressure of the revolutionary council and replaced with former Education Minister U Kar. On 17 May, the University Council was reformed with army generals and Rangoon University was put directly under the control of government, whereas previously it was run by a council of professors, scholars and government officials.[4] On 18 June, more unjust rules such as all students must be in their respective room by 9 PM by all means and the Wardens would be inspecting their room, every night were announced. On 6 July, the Revolutionary Council reformed the University Senate and the Hostel Committee according to their wishes.[5]

Protests and crackdown[edit]

The military surrounded the campus

On 7 July 1962, students called the meeting protesting the Revolutionary Council’s unfair rules and regulations at the Rangoon University Students’ Union building. Military responded by arresting the student leaders. Students gathered in front of the students’ union building, shouted slogans and occupied the campus when they learnt that students’ leaders were arrested. The military surrounded the campus and began throwing tear gas into the crowds.

In the evening at about 5:30 pm, two army trucks arrived and along Mandalay Hall, Ramanya Hall and Chancellor Road, the soldiers started shooting at the students with automatic rifles. The soldiers were from No. 4 Burmese Rifles Battalion and the shooting order was 3 minutes shooting 2 minutes rest and 3 minutes shooting. At that time, Aung Gyi and Tin Pe were the most senior officers and Sein Lwin was the field commanding officer in the university region. No one exactly knew who gave the orders to open fire.[5]

Shortly afterward, Ne Win addressed the nation in a five-minute radio speech which concluded with the statement: "if these disturbances were made to challenge us, I have to declare that we will fight sword with sword and spear with spear".[note 1] The military government declared that 17 students died, but in Mandalay Hall alone more than 17 students died according to the official records and altogether over a hundred students died.[6] The historic students union building was demolished by dynamite at 6 am on July 8, 1962.[7][8][9] The monument of Bo Aung Kyaw left alone among debris.


In 1988, 26 years later, Ne Win denied any involvement in dynamiting of the Student Union building, stating that his deputy Brigadier Aung Gyi, who by that time had fallen out with Ne Win and been dismissed, had given the order and that he had to take responsibility as a "revolutionary leader" by giving the sword with sword and spear with spear speech.[2]



  1. ^ The Burmese phrase is "dah go dah gyin, hlan go hlan gyin". Two different English translations of the speech can be read on the front page of the Rangoon Nation and the Rangoon Guardian of 9 July 1962. Part of The Nation "s headline of 9 July 1962 read "General Ne Win States Give Us Time to Work: Obstructionists are Warned: Will Fight Sword with Sword")..


  1. ^ "Burma: On the Occasion of 7th July Anniversary". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Sein Lwin 'The Butcher of Rangoon' Dies in Poverty". .irrawaddy.org. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  3. ^ "Eurasia Review". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  4. ^ Khin Maung Kyi (2000). Economic Development of Burma: a Vision and a Strategy. SUP. p. 150. ISBN 91-88836-16-9. 
  5. ^ a b Burma Democrática Preocupação (2011-07-07). "Apoiamos Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma): 7th July Memorial in Burma". Birmnia-democrtica-preocupao.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  6. ^ "Burma's Student Movement: A Concise". Burmalibrary.org. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  7. ^ "Activists Detained Ahead of July 7 Anniversary | The Irrawaddy Magazine". Irrawaddy.org. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  8. ^ Boudreau, Vincent (2004) Resisting Dictatorship: Repression and Protest in Southeast Asia Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., pp. 37-39, 50-51, ISBN 0-521-83989-0
  9. ^ Myint-U, Thant (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-16342-1.