Myanmar Junta Forces Open Fire on Villagers Protesting School Reopening

By The Irrawaddy 5 May 2021

Junta forces fired shots and arrested residents of Suuphygon village in Natogyi Township, Mandalay Region on Monday, after dozens of villagers staged a demonstration against teachers making preparations to reopen the village high school next month.

Schools and universities across the country have been closed since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The military regime has ordered all basic education schools to reopen on June 1, the annual back-to-school day.

“Residents staged a protest as the teachers prepared to open the school. They just protested peacefully and didn’t do any harm to the teachers. But the teachers called the police as they were unable to enter the school. Four plainclothes police arrived, but the locals refused to leave,” said a villager.

The police then went to see the village administrator to discuss how to disperse the crowd outside the school. While villagers gathered outside the house of the village administrator to protest the police presence, junta soldiers arrived and opened fire on the protesters.

“They fired shots all around the village, while asking the residents who have stoned the houses of informants to come out. Some villagers fled into the wood to the west of the village, but informants led the security forces to the wood and they were arrested,” said a villager.

It is unclear how many villagers were detained. Junta forces also destroyed satellite dishes and looted money from some residents. Suuphygon village has emptied following the incident.

Junta forces reportedly also opened fire on and arrested people in Sagaing and Magwe regions who were publicly calling for a boycott of the education system under military rule.

The regime’s attempt to reopen schools is now facing increasing resistance, with anti-regime protesters calling for a boycott of education as part of the nationwide civil disobedience movement against the junta.

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