Since the thwarted 1990 elections in Burma, many former student radicals have fled the country into neighboring Thailand. In August 1999, the VBSW formed as a branch organization opposed to the strategy of peaceful protest of the All Burma Students Democratic Front. On October 1, 1999, a group of five members raided the Burmese consulate in Bangkok and took 89 people hostage. The group demanded that negotiations be opened between the National League for Democracy and the Burmese government, and that a Parliament be convened based on the results of the 1990 election. However, they soon relaxed their demands and began to let the hostages go, and the Thai government eventually allowed the VBSW members to flee by helicopter to the border with Burma.
Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors is a small band of Myanmar anti-government students, led by a man known as Johnny. The group is thought to be linked to the Maneeloy refugee resettlement site in western Thailand. On 01 October 1999 members of the previously unknown group, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, stormed the stormed Myanmar's (Burma's) Bangkok embassy and seized 38 hostages. In this first act of violence by Burmese exiles in Thailand, the gunmen demanded that Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC (formerly known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC) free all political prisoners and enter talks with the pro-democracy National League for Democracy (NLD). The leader of the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi, is opposed to violence and issued a statement condemning the embassy raid. The five gunmen released their hostages on 02 October 1999 and were allowed to flee to the Thai-Burma border by helicopter in a deal with the Thai authorities. They found sanctuary with the God's Army breakaway faction of the Karen National Union, close to the Thai-Myanmar border. In December 1999 the group's leaders held a news conference at a God's Army rebel camp in Ka Mar Pa Law, inside Myanmar opposite Thailand's Ratchaburi province, 95 kilometers (59 miles) west of Bangkok.