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MYANMAR: GCE condemns brutal crackdown on citizens campaigning for academic reform and freedom

This statement is also available in FrenchSpanishArabic and Portuguese.

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127 people were arrested, including 65 students, during last week’s brutal crackdown of a citizen protest against a proposed education bill which would stifle academic freedom. The bill would also stop the formation of students’ unions in higher education institutions.

A spokesperson for GCE’s partner organisation in Myanmar, the National Network for Education Reform, told the press that there were at least three police officers to every one of the protestors and their supporters. 1,000 police officers were present at the protest site, with about half deployed to crack down on the protestors gathered outside a monastery in Letpadan, about 140km north of Yangon. "The students never had a chance," NNER spokesperson Hawng Sai stated. She also said that the government had earlier promised to negotiate with the protesters to resolve the issue.


Image: Recent civil society workshop held by NNER (copyright ASPBAE)

While there have been reports that small numbers of the detained protesters have been released, the majority remain in custody.

Concerned citizens of Myanmar have since started a solidarity campaign by handing out white armbands to protest against the use of violence against peaceful protestors, with the nationwide solidarity campaign beginning on 19 March.

The Global Campaign for Education condemns in the strongest terms the violent crackdown by the state against a group of peaceful protestors exercising their right to demonstrate, and stands with NNER and the citizens of Myanmar in their struggle to assert their human right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

For updates on the campaign please follow NNER on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/NNER.mmr