The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) says that a preliminary meeting for a nationwide students’ conference will be held in November.
A statement by the umbrella group of student unions was released after a meeting of its members in Pegu Division from July 2 to 4, which was observed by 223 students from 55 universities and colleges.
Ye Yin Kyaw, head of the ABFSU information committee, said, “As the country is moving towards a federal union, we aim to include ethnic students. Our members want to hold a conference attended by students from all corners of the country.”
Wai Yan Moe is a distant education student from Pyay University. He said, “This proposed student conference is where we can make our policies clear among those students unions that are not well-connected.”
Nanda Sit Aung, head of the ABFSU ethnic affairs committee, said, “To transform the ABFSU into a federation based on a federal system, the ABFSU had taken its first step in establishing a force composed of students of all ethnicities.”
The ABFSU statement said student unions across the country should call meetings, so that it can decide upon plans for a nationwide conference before the end of the year. It also urged the authorities and education officials to guarantee freedom of organization to students and to avoid discrimination against any student groups.
The ABFSU has been at the forefront of resistance movements against political oppression for more than 70 years, including protests against British occupation and the military dictatorship.
In 2015, the students union led a campaign calling for education reform until rallies were broken up violently by security forces, and dozens of students and their supporters were detained in prison for months on end.
On 8 April this year, a court in Pegu Division’s Tharrawaddy District dropped charges against 69 student activists arrested during a crackdown on protests in Letpadan, though three of the protest leaders – Nanda Sit Aung, Phyo Phyo Aung and Min Thway Thit – still have charges pending.