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Students ready for fresh wave of protests

The group of students who are marching from Mandalay to Rangoon in a protest against the National Education Law departed the town of Yenanchaung in Magwe Division on Monday. They are now headed by foot to Magwe itself, the capital of the division.

Ye Yint Kyaw, a protest leader, has said that they intend to spend the night in a village.

“Currently, we are marching from Yenanchaung to Magwe. As it is quite a long distance, we may have to stop over at the village of Kanhpya for the night,” he told DVB.

Before arriving in Yenanchaung, the protestors had set up an encampment in the village of Htanbinchauk, but were forced by village authorities to leave.

Meanwhile, another group of student protestors in Irrawaddy Division are planning to begin a march to Rangoon on 3 February, according to Tay Zar, secretary of the Rangoon Economic University Students Union.

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“The Irrawaddy students are likely to begin their march on 3 February because we get the impression that the talks [on 1 February] between parliamentary representatives, Minister U Aung Min and students did not go well. It ended without a solid conclusion,” said Tay Zar.

A third group of protestors in the coastal town of Tavoy (Dawei) in southern Burma’s Tenasserim Division are awaiting the conclusion of the talks, scheduled to continue on Tuesday, before they decide whether to begin a march to Rangoon, according to local student leader Min Lwin Oo.

The National Education Law was approved by the union parliament on 30 September amid objections that led to several public protests around the country.

In November, the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) issued a 60-day deadline for the parliament to negotiate amendments of the law. These most recent protests began as the deadline passed.

“Student unions have objected to the National Education Law ever since it was at the drafting stage,” said Swe Linn Tun, the Mandalay district chair of the ABFSU, speaking to DVB in November. “This law centralises control with the government, offers no guarantee for freedom of education, and does not include provisions to allow for the forming of student unions.”

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