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Burmese react to ‘brutal’ suppression of student protest

DVB contacted a cross-section of voices from Burma’s political arena and civil society in the aftermath of the police crackdown on students in Letpadan on Tuesday. Almost all expressed feelings of sadness and referred to the police’s use of force as “brutal” or even “inhumane”, and many highlighted the discrepancy in the actions of a government who sanction violence against unarmed students, and yet also claims to be leading the way to democracy.

Nan Khin Htwe Myint, NLD spokesperson

“I saw the police dashing towards a protestor, who had his head pressed against the ground with his hands tied, and they kicked him. I am very sad and disturbed to see that, let alone imagine what the parents must feel. There was no need for the authorities to be that cruel. We do not condone the use of violence. The situation was avoidable though negotiations. The government has negotiated on issues more serious than this, so I don’t see why they can’t negotiate with these young students.”

Htay Oo, USDP secretary

There may be a cause for the situation from both sides, and this causation must be carefully analysed. There could be emotions involved. What happened has happened, but I believe that the causation should be thoroughly analysed.

Ye Htut, Minister for Information

“Despite repeated warnings to disperse without police force, students destroyed the barriers.”

Nyo Nyo Thin, Rangoon regional parliament MP, NNER member

“According to the agreement made in the four-way talks, a pledge was taken not take action against the students and their supporters who participated in the education protests. The government have openly and blatantly broken their promise by ordering the crackdown on Tuesday. We plan to get the four-way talks back on track, and to seek justice from the government for breaking their promise. We want reparations for the students.”

Ko Ko Gyi, 88 Generation Peace and Open Society member

“We denounce the excessive use of force to suppress the protest on Tuesday, and call for the immediate release of those monks and student protesters arrested.”

Nai Hongsa, United Nationalities Federal Council deputy-chairman

“I think it is inappropriate for a government claiming to be leading the country towards democracy to brutalise young and unarmed students. It was an ugly thing for the people to see, and against the principles of the reforming system. The government is responsible for what happened.”

Zin Wine, Burmese movie star

“The scene in Letpadan today made my heart very heavy. A crackdown like that could have been expected back in the days of [Gen. Ne Win’s] Burma Socialist Programme Party and the military junta. But nowadays, when we are supposedly on track to becoming a developed and democratic nation, this can really destroy the image and the dignity of Burma – the people, and the government of President Thein Sein.”


Aye Maung, Rakhine National Party chairman

“We are saddened, as the people are, to witness the government’s use of force to counter this protest. We wanted a peaceful solution. We were hoping for a win-win situation: to meet the students’ demand for a National Education Law acceptable to all, while also providing a satisfactory end for the government.”

Kyaw Thu, Free Funeral Service Society director

“The police’s action was inhumane and violent. There is no need for that kind of brutality towards another human being. It is a completely unacceptable way to treat innocent young students, especially after the government promised to avoid using violence. I would like to ask why a government that claims to be elected by the people, and claims to support civil society, is now terrorising its people and attacking civil society organisations. While we still don’t know who shot the Red Cross vehicle in Laogai last month, we clearly saw who smashed the ambulance in Letpadan yesterday.”


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