Mandalay students resolute in face of govt warnings

Mandalay students resolute in face of govt warnings

Any continued student protests will be dealt with in accordance with the law, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Brig-Gen Kyaw Zan Myint has vowed.

Answering reporters’ questions at the end of the parliamentary session on Monday, Kyaw Zan Myint said: “The four-way talks have taken place, and an agreement signed between all parties. An announcement has now been made that legal procedures will be followed to prevent any undesirable problems.”

Negotiations on a bill to amend the National Education Law took place on 14 and 15 February, and were attended by representatives of the government and parliament, as well as student leaders from the Network for National Education Reform (NNER) and Committee for Democracy Education Movement (CDEM).

An amendment bill, in line with the students’ demands, has been drafted and is now ready to be presented in parliament.

Kyaw Zan Myint’s comments echo those of another senior government minister, who previously warned students that they would be taking a risk if they entered Rangoon, the planned destination for their final rally.

Following the four-way talks on Saturday, Deputy Education Minister Thant Shin told members of the press that: “The government has done its part. I would like to advise the students that Rangoon is deep water for them. If they venture into deep water, whether they can swim or not, there is a chance that they might drown under unfortunate circumstances,” said Thant Shin.

Ye Yint Kyaw, spokesperson of the CDEM, which has been spearheading the recent demonstrations, has reasserted that the principal student column from Mandalay does not plan to stop marching until the bill has been fully approved.

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“We are marching on to Rangoon, as originally planned. We understand that a bill to amend the National Education Law, in accordance with our 11 demands, has been finalised and is due to be tabled in parliament. We plan to stop protesting when the president has signed it, and all our demands have been guaranteed,” said Ye Yint Kyaw.

The Mandalay column, marching from Mandalay to Rangoon, left the town of Okpho in Pegu Division on Monday, on course for Minhla town. Pegu Division shares a border with Rangoon Division. Authorities have reportedly erected barricades on the highway at the point of crossing from Pegu to Rangoon divisions.

Meanwhile, after converging in the regional town capital of Pegu (also written Bago) on Monday, student columns which had travelled from central Burma’s Monywa, and southern Burma’s Tenasserim [Tanintharyi] and Moulmein [Mawlamyine], have all announced their decision to disperse.

“The combined columns of students from Monywa, Moulmein and Tavoy [Dawei] have decided to suspend their march. We have now cancelled our plan to go to Rangoon,” said Wai Moe Naing, a Monywa Students Union member, talking to DVB from Pegu in light of the developments at Saturday’s meeting.

 

More photos from student rallies: CLICK HERE

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