Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Students expected to resume protests today

Student activists – including some recently freed from jail – will head back to the picket lines today to join a four-city demonstration demanding the release of those detained at Letpadan on March 10.

Student demonstrators hold clenched fists in the air during a protest at Letpadan on March 10, shortly before a police crackdown. (Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times)Student demonstrators hold clenched fists in the air during a protest at Letpadan on March 10, shortly before a police crackdown. (Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times)

The protests will take place in Yangon, Mandalay, Hinthada in Ayeyarwady Region and Monywa, and will start at 10:10am.

The students are also demanding an investigation into the violent crackdown at Letpadan, which ended with the arrest of 127 people. Four student activists were also arrested later by police for their role in the demonstration.

After the government declared those who could prove their status as “real” students would be released, a handful were sent home to their families. On March 25, 65 of the jailed students and activists were charged with five offences – including incitement to riot, unlawful association and obstructing police officers – that together could result in a six-year prison term. An additional 11 people on bail and four students in hiding were charged in absentia.

On March 25, the government said the four in hiding are “fugitives” and ordered them to appear in court.

According to the students, the four are leaders of the protest march from Mandalay, which began in January in opposition to the National Education Law.

“We’re not fugitives but President Thein Sein is. They are the culprits,” Ko Myat Thu, one of the four in hiding, posted yesterday on his Facebook page.