Letpadan Standoff: Student Deadline Looms

By Lawi Weng 10 March 2015

LETPADAN, Pegu Division — As the clock ticked towards 10 am on Tuesday—the deadline set by students for police to lift their blockade in Letpadan, Pegu Division, and allow them to march to Rangoon—students and activists were contemplating a potentially decisive morning ahead.

One 40-year-old female activist told her friend over breakfast, “Prepare to eat more because we do not know which prison we may have to go to.”

Emotions were high among some students and activists who planned to remove police barricades on Tuesday and restart their march, but were unsure of the response from authorities.

One female student activist, 22, sang a Burmese song by well-known singer Lay Phyu with the lyrics “This will be my last life decision for today.”

Some 200 police were lined up outside the protest site on Tuesday, with no visible increase in numbers despite the students’ pledge to restart their march to Rangoon, around 90 miles south of Letpadan.

Many police have been deployed along the route, including at the boundary between Pegu and Rangoon Divisions. Some students expressed concern over the deployment of plainclothes security forces that may spark tensions.

A male activist, 30, told The Irrawaddy, “We are under house arrest on the street. This is why we need to break through the wire fence and go to Rangoon. We are not afraid of their [protest] laws.”

Some visitors came to donate food on Tuesday morning, including well-known lawyer Aung Thein. One lady even arrived to donate Ooredoo and Telenor phone credit to the students.