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Student protests: apparent breakthrough reached in Rangoon

An agreement on students’ demands concerning the controversial National Education Law has been reached between government officials and education reform activists at a meeting in Rangoon on Wednesday.

Khin Saw Wai, a lower house MP and an attendee at the meeting, told DVB: “The negotiations went smoothly on all 11 points, although certain points were laboured over for some time.

“I am delighted as both the students and the NNER [National Network for Education Reform, an advisory body] seemed satisfied with the results.

“The government officials were very accommodating in the meeting, and the parliament representatives agreed to do what they could with regard to the issues raised by the government.

However, as there are some 600 MPs in the parliament, not everyone may have the same point of view on this,” Khin Saw Wai added.

All of the 11 points put forward by the students – which have been the subject of widespread national demonstrations – appear to have been settled conclusively, according to reports from the meeting and President’s Office Director Zaw Htay.

The full details of agreements are as yet unclear, with a joint press conference pending.

Meanwhile, groups or “columns” of student protestors around the country, who had been involved in sustained demonstrations in recent weeks, were awaiting word from the conference before making their next move.

The Irrawaddy column, which originated in the division capital of Bassein (officially known as Pathein), had pre-empted the outcome of Wednesday’s talks, saying that they had decided to stand down to await the results.


“We are currently on a break as the talks are taking place in Rangoon. We will decide whether to continue marching on or not depending on results of the talks,” Tayzar, a protest leader, told DVB on Wednesday afternoon.

“If our demands are met, we will call off the march right here and now.”

Another column of student protestors, marching from central Burma’s Mandalay to the former capital of Rangoon, had vowed to continue their demonstrations until all their demands were fully met at the four-way talks.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the column was en route to the town of Shwedaung in Pegu Division, officially known as Bago.

A further column, which had marched out of Magwe Division’s Pakokku in central Burma, had arrived in Thaton, 70 kilometres north of Mon State capital Moulmein, by 8m on Wednesday. They had travelled by car and by bus, and on arrival joined forces with another column which had been marching from Tenasserim Division in the south. This merged group were scheduled to stop over in the town of Kyaikto for the night.


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