Sunday, August 20, 2017

1000 commemorate centennial of democratic icon in Yangon

Students, monks and political and religious leaders came together last week to commemorate the centennial of Muslim student leader U Raschid, the hero of a patriotic uprising in colonial times and after.

About 1000 people, including former and current students, leaders of 88 Generation, former political prisoners, leaders of political parties, monks, and Hindu and Muslim leaders attended and made speeches.

The event took place at the Royal Rose restaurant on November 5.

U Raschid, who was born in India and came to Myanmar at the age of two, led a student strike against the British authorities 1936. He was the first chairman of both the Federation of Student Unions and the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.

Recalling U Raschid’s accomplishments, 88 Generation leader Ko Min Ko Naing said refraining from bloodshed was more important than nationality or religion.

“We must maintain our stand against racism and religious hatred. Anyone who shares our nationality should receive national rights. We should be faithful to our country,” he said.

Other speakers expressed support for the message and called for unity between people of all religions.

Participants recalled the history of the Yangon University Student Union building, which was demolished, probably on the orders of General Ne Win, and called for national reconciliation.

U Raschid in 1931 helped draw up the constitution of the Students’ Union based on those of Oxford and Cambridge universities. He served as vice president of the Students’ Union, then chairman, in 1935-36. At the same time, he was elected chairman of the All Burma Students’ Union.

In 1939 he was elected chairman of the All Burma Youth Muslim Congress, and later chairman of the All Burma Muslim Organisation. After General Ne Win took power in 1962, U Raschid was jailed for six years. He was arrested again in 1974 and jailed for 18 months.

He died in 1978 in Pakistan, where his gravestone is inscribed: “Raschid of Burma”.