Protest marks one month since Letpadan crackdown

Protest marks one month since Letpadan crackdown

Demonstrations have been held to mark one month since a violent police crackdown which saw 127 arrested, with 70 still in Tharwaddy prison.

Students, supporters and family members of those detained rallied in Mandalay and Pegu Division.

Seventy activists are still in Tharawaddy prison after being arrested during scenes of chaos on 10 March, which saw a violent police reaction when an a tense eight-day showdown with protestors – who were attempting to march to Rangoon to show their anger at the widely unpopular National Education Law – turned ugly.

On Friday in Pegu Division, protestors began marching through the town at 8am.

“We are primarily calling for the release of the arrested students. Also, to stop the violence, and to stop the arrest of more students”, said Zin Myo Aung, a second year law student from Taungoo University, who participated in the protest.

More than 100 students and family members of detained activists from Rangoon, Taungoo and Pegu participated in the demonstration.

People in Mandalay also marked the one-month date by releasing balloons, marked with the words ‘release students’, in front of Mahamuni Pagoda at 10am, and holding prayers for the release of arrested students. The protestors dispersed soon after.

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Meanwhile, six people who were arrested two weeks ago while protesting the ongoing detention of education activists have appeared in court in Myingyan on 10 April.

There was no hearing of the case against the two students – Nyan Myint Than and Si Thu Myat – and four supporters – Sein Win, Ma Phyu, Kyaw Than Tun and Thant Zin. Instead, they were remanded in detention, said their lawyer Myin Thein.

The next court appointment has been set for 24 April. The six stand accused of Articles 143, 145 and 505(b) for unlawful assembly, ignoring an instruction to disperse, and causing offense to the state or public tranquillity, respectively.

“There are still more fugitives besides them, the court said. They said that they need to send warrants to the families of fugitives, and question the police and quarter leaders. After that, the case of this six can be heard,” said Myin Thein.

Several people were arrested on 27 March when students and activists took to the streets, calling for the release of fellow protestors and denouncing the watered-down amendments bill on the National Education Law, which was passed by the country’s upper house of parliament on 26 March.

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