After Govt Postpones Education Talks, Students Continue March to Rangoon

By Nobel Zaw 4 February 2015

RANGOON — Students from across Burma, indignant at the government’s decision to postpone quadripartite talks over reform of the National Education Law, are preparing to join demonstrators on the march to Rangoon.

The government postponed discussions with students, lawmakers and education advocates in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, the day they were due to commence, stating that it was preoccupied with Union Day events and questioning whether a student delegation summoned to the capital was representative of wider sentiment among the demonstrators.

“The government tricked us by postponing the meeting, so our protest from Irrawaddy Division has been restarted,” Aung Kyaw, a member of Action Committee for Democratic Education (ACDE), told The Irrawaddy.

More than 80 students from Irrawaddy Division resumed marching on Tuesday and have settled in for the evening near Kyaunggon after being welcomed by residents. Demonstrators from Mandalay, who have marched continuously since January, were temporarily joined by 800 residents on the march to Magwe Division’s Taungdwingyi town after leaders gave a speech at a local university.

“We went to Magwe Computer University and requested that the principal allow our presence,” ACDE member Min Thwe Thit told The Irrawaddy. “We gave a speech at the university and we still have yet to be prevented from demonstrating.”

Four other groups intend to lead demonstrations into Rangoon in the coming days. ACDE member Pyae Phyo Kyaw said that students will assemble in Pakokku, Magwe Division on Friday and hold a protest rally in town for three days before traveling to Rangoon.

A group of students in Dawei will begin a protest march on Thursday, while demonstrators in Arakan and Mon States have announced plans to begin protests within a week, pledging to travel to Rangoon and join other protesters if their support is necessary.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Coordination Committee for Civil Society Organizations Forum, a body representing over 260 civil society groups, issued a statement urging quadripartite discussions to be held as soon as possible and for authorities to refrain from threatening or attacking student demonstrators.