Student human rights defenders under pressure in Myanmar/Burma

April 27, 2015

Since November 2014, student organizations including the All Burma Federation of Student Union (ABFSU) have been protesting against the National Education Bill, which student activists claim restricts academic freedom. Enacted by Parliament on 30 September 2014, the National Education Law was intended to reform the country’s education system, but the ABFSU claim the government did not seek adequate student input in its formation. The new restrictions outlaw independent student and teacher unions, and erase ethnic languages, cultures and literatures from university syllabi.

Students opposed to the National Education Law staged a peaceful protest in Letpadan on 10 March 2015. Police responded violently to the movement. They arrested approximately 126 students, including student leaders Po Po, Nanda Sitt Aung and Phyo Phyo Aung. Three others, Myat Thu Aung, Kyaw Ko Ko (the Chairman) and Ye Yint Kyaw (spokesperson), managed to escape in March, but today they face criminal charges of unlawful assembly, rioting, incitement, and causing harm to a public servant. The charges carry penalties of up to three years in prison. Robert San Aung, who leads the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network team and is one the 3 Final Nominees of the MEA this year, said he believes the Court would not begin hearing the charges against those students currently detained, until police had apprehended those still in hiding.

The ABFSU is a student union with a long tradition and as far back as 2001 it won the Norwegian Student Peace Prize.

Myanmar/Burma – Student human rights defenders Myat Thu Aung, Kyaw Ko Ko and Ye Yint Kyaw facing charges | Front Line Defenders.

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