Parents Await Some Letpadan Protest Students’ Release

By Yen Saning 12 March 2015

THAYAWADDY, Pegu Division — The parents of several detained students headed to Thayawaddy Prison on Thursday morning after the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the night prior that some of those taken into custody following a brutal police crackdown in Letpadan this week would soon be released.

An official from the regional administration said 27 of the 127 students arrested on Tuesday would be handed over to their parents. He added that authorities were having difficulties contacting some of the parents because students were not providing their real contact information.

The parents have traveled to Thayawaddy Prison from cities and towns across Burma, some traveling long distances to meet with Pegu Division Deputy Police Chief Win Sein. A prison official told them that the release of students would depend on Win Sein’s final approval.

Aye Aye Maw traveled 80 miles from Rangoon on Wednesday afternoon, immediately upon being notified that some of the detained students, her daughter potentially among them, would be arraigned. She stayed overnight upon hearing that her 18-year-old daughter Yi Moh Moh Aung would not be among those facing charges, and would be released soon.

After spending the night in the town of Thayawaddy, the mother was told to wait at the Thayawaddy Administrator’s Office, for any updates on the release of her daughter, who is a student from the University of Eastern Yangon.

“All [Penal Code] charges they put on the students are unfair. And they themselves promised they wouldn’t arrest students and now they did. If I were the government, I would be dead from embarrassment,” she told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday night.

The detained students and their supporters are being prosecuted for a handful of Penal Code violations, including participation in an unlawful assembly, joining or continuing an unlawful assembly, rioting, harming a public servant and incitement. The charges carry sentences of up to three years in prison for some counts.

An authority from the prison said students were not likely to be released until Thursday evening.