Shadow of Seven July; Venders were shot dead in a village in Wetlet Township

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – July 07 Scenes

MoeMaKa, July 08, 2023

Shadow of Seven July; Venders were shot dead in a village in Wetlet Township

On July 7, 1962, 61 years ago, dozens of students, including members of the Students Union who were sheltering in the union building, lost their lives in an explosion. On the same July 7, the military generals, who named their group as the Revolutionary Council, ordered live ammunition to be fired at the protesting students on the university campus. This incident was the first bloodshed by the U Ne Win-led junta that came to power after a military coup in March.


The coup d’état of 1962 was not strongly opposed by politicians, but was supported by moderate left politicians who can be said to be socialists and social democrats. At that time, some left-wing politicians on the ground did not like the AFPFL’s capitalist economic system, neutrality in international affairs, and more moderate policies than the socialists on ethnic issues, so they encouraged U Ne Win’s Revolutionary Council, which proclaimed that it would follow the socialist path.


After the military coup on March 2, the members of the union government and the stable AFPFL leaders were detained, and as for outside politicians, there was no major movement against the coup Revolutionary Council, but a few months later, the council faced opposition from the student force. The coup leaders, who gained a certain amount of political confidence, dealt with the students’ opposition movement brutally.


It may be that the military hated the student movement during the AFPFL period. They saw the university student union building as a hiding place for the rebels and decided to permanently demolish the union building from the ground up. As usual, they created fake news that weapons were hidden in the union building and incited among the military leadership to destroy the student union building, which had been built since the colonial era. It was such a dark event in history that it is not even known how many students were inside at the time of the explosion.


Why had this incident become not only related to the Revolutionary Council and military leader Ne Win, but for more than 6 decades, it has been like a historical debt between the ruling government and student activists?


It must be said that the debt of history has continued until now because of the military’s occupying power in politics, its continuous control of power for the past 60 years, restrictions on student activities, not allowing student unions to be officially opened (with the exception of 2011 to 2021), not identifying those responsible for the 1962 incident by the military, not apologizing and guaranteeing that such an incident will not happen again, and not allowing the reconstruction of the destroyed union building.


During the NLD government regime in 2015 and 2020, there was an effort sponsored by the Yangon regional government to rebuild the union building, but because there was no clear consultation with the student union groups, it faced objections and the construction plan was suspended.


If you look back at the Seven July incident, the military used excessive force against the unarmed protesting students, used live ammunition when they started to crackdown on them, and worst of all, treated the students’ union as an enemy stronghold and blew it up with dynamite. These are the ugliest incidents in history. Successive military leaders have not yet regretted that they used ten times more brutal methods than those of the British colony in oppressing the student movements more than 100 years ago. As such, it can be said that the Seventh July incident is still indebted to history.


Another news topic among today’s events is that 7 venders, including women, who were going to Shwe Pan Kone by car to sell greengrocery, were shot dead when military council troops invaded the village by firing recklessly in Shwe Pan Kone Village, a village in Wetlet Township.


The incident is said to have taken place around 4:00 a.m. when the military council column invaded, and photos of women dying among the goods can be seen on social media. When military council columns invade villages, they often shoot without distinguishing whether there are civilians or not. Also, people passing by on the street are usually considered to be members of the People’s Defense Forces, supporters or informers, and are killed indiscriminately. These incidents are becoming a frequent occurrence. Is it now impossible to avoid or prevent these events from happening, apart from documenting them? So, I would like to urge the people’s defense forces to take urgent action to prevent such a loss of civilian lives.