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Representatives from the Burmese government met with student protest leaders in Rangoon on Sunday to begin discussions about the students’ demands on the National Education Law.
Before negotiations on the students’ 11 points relating to the controversial law could begin, attendees had to discuss nine preconditions for the talks also set by the students.
The four-way meeting took place at Rangoon University’s Diamond Jubilee Hall and was attended by representatives from the government, parliament, the National Network for Education Reforms, and the Committee for Democracy Education Movement.A joint statement released at the end of the meeting said that agreement was reached on eight of the nine preconditions. These points were: to release a joint statement at the end of every round of the talks; to release publically the contents of discussions; that representatives from all four parties in the talks are of equal status; to negotiate the National Education Law focusing on the students’ 11 demands; official recognition of the representative student and teacher unions [within the negotiations]; inclusion of student and teacher representatives in the drafting of laws and bylaws concerning education policies; that the government will speedily present a bill amending the National Education Law to parliament; and to urge the parliament to heed the students’ preferences when enacting education laws.
A ninth condition, to ensure that no recriminations would be carried out against student protestors, was not agreed on. The government’s lead negotiator, President’s Office Minister Aung Min, pledged that students who had taken part in the march from Mandalay, prior to its arrival at Mount Popa, would not be punished. He said he would discuss with President Thein Sein the issue of punitive measures regarding those who joined the march later.
The talks are scheduled to continue on Tuesday, 3 February.