Kyaw Min Yu’s first political rally was almost his last.
On March 16, 1988, he joined a group of Yangon students protesting against the military junta which then ran Myanmar. They had reached a lakeside spot called White Bridge when police and soldiers attacked.
By some accounts, nearly 100 students were clubbed to death or drowned in what has come to be known as the Red Bridge incident, the day 27 years ago when the White Bridge turned red with blood.
“Sometimes, I can still hear the sound of the police’s red wood sticks hitting students’ heads,” said Kyaw Min Yu, who managed to escape and became one of the leaders of the famous anti-junta group, the 88 Generation Students.
Students are again protesting in Myanmar and police have responded harshly. Kyaw Min Yu, now 46, says he has regular contact with the students and has given informal advice but he declined to give details.
But it’s clear that some of the older generation of activists, including democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, are at odds with the students over their tactics.