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Twelve students have been released from Tharawaddy prison in Pegu Division after being detained for their part in the education protests in Letpadan. More have also been slated for release today (Thursday), though the exact number expected to be freed is unclear.
Sit Naing Aung of the University of Yadanabon; Soe Lwin Kyaw of Thahton Agriculture University; San Lin Oo of the University of Henzada; Yemon Aung of East Rangoon University; as well as Thet Htar Zin, Khine Zin Thet, Ei Phyu Phyu Htun, Shwe Yi, Htet Khine, Pyae Sone, Htet Linn and Aung Thaung Oo were freed on Thursday afternoon after spending two nights in jail following the police crackdown on Tuesday, in which 127 students and supporters were arrested in total.
Third year chemistry student Yemon Aung told DVB her account of events.
“We started pushing through the police line … It started to break. I fell down in the scuffle, and I just saw rocks flying. I didn’t know who was throwing then. I ran forward, grabbed some protestors from the front and we started running. We regrouped in the monastery, which the police quickly surrounded.
“We asked the monks to pass on a message to the police – to tell them that we would submit to arrest, and not to assault us. The monks instructed them: ‘Don’t beat up the students,’ and the police promised not to. We came out of the monastery, and they beat us senseless. They mostly went for the boys. They told everyone to sit on the floor with their heads down so we could not see the beatings.
“I put my head up and told them to stop,” she said. “A female police officer kept poking me in the back with a stick. She called me kaungma [bitch] and other rude things, and told me to keep my head down. But I kept looking up and saw students covered in blood. Some of them are still being treated in prison.
“There were some very loud police officers, yelling at us: ‘We had to stand in the sun because of you!’. I think that the police were intentionally kept in the sun to make them very angry, and ruthless in the crackdown.”
State media on Thursday announced that the 127 detained individuals were being interrogated to determine whether they were “real students” who are enrolled in education courses. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM) also reported that detainees were being released to their parents “based on empathy, leniency, and the intention to allow them to continue their studies.”
Burma’s information ministry late Wednesday said “action will be taken” against those activists considered “masterminds” of the rally, in a statement on its website.
But current university students would be released “with kindness so they can continue their education” in the care of their parents, it said without giving further details.
Ten monks who were arrested were also “interrogated”, according to GNLM, and subsequently released after vowing to stay away from party politics, social affairs and student protests in the future.