Police Arrest 5 Students in Rangoon, Monywa in Wake of Crackdown

By Nyein Nyein 13 March 2015

Burmese authorities are continuing their clampdown on student organizations as police detained four student leaders and an Agence France-Presse reporter in Rangoon on Thursday night, while another student was arrested in Monywa on Wednesday, a lawyer and family members said.

Student Htet Nyi Nyi Aung of Yadanapon University, Moe Htet Nay of Mandalay University and All Burma Federation of Student Union (ABFSU) leaders Han Ni Oo and Thiha Win Tin had gathered at the home of AFP reporter Phyo Hein Kyaw in Rangoon’s Ahlone Township on Thursday night, when police entered the apartment at around 11 pm and arrested them, Kyee Myint, of the Myanmar Lawyers Network, said.

Kyee Myint said he visited Ahlone Police Station on Friday morning and talked to Htet Nyi Nyi Aung and Moe Htet Nay, while the ABFSU leaders were still being questioned.

Reporter Phyo Hein Kyaw was released without charge at around 10:30 am, a friend of the journalist said.

“The students told me that authorities told them to open the door as they needed to check for household registration, but the security [presence] was very high in their community during the arrest,” Kyee Myint said. “Such actions by the police are still the same as in the junta-era.”

Reporter Phyo Hein Kyaw was released without charge at around 10:30 am, a friend of the journalist said. Htet Nyi Nyi Aung was also released Friday, said Maj. Htun Shwe of the Ahlone Township police station, adding that the other three students had been transferred to Pegu Division police who would decide on the charges against them.

The lawyer said he also received phone calls from parents of several students in Yaysagyo Township, Magwe Division, saying they had not heard from their children for a while and were worried about their possible arrest.

The arrests come in the wake of a brutal police crackdown on a student protest in Letpadan, Pegu Division, on Tuesday, during which riot police descended on more than 100 students and supporters protesting for Education Law reform. Some 127 students, mostly in their early 20s, were detained and dozens were severely beaten. Authorities have said they plan to file criminal charges against some of them; 27 were released without charge on Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday, Soe Hlaing, a leader of the Action Committee for Democratic Education (ACDE) and a third-year Mechanical Engineering student from Monywa Government Technological College, was arrested at 2:30 am for taking down the national flag and hoisting the student union’s flag at Myin Chan Degree College during a student protest last month, friends of the student said.

Plainclothes police showed up at his hostel on campus and took him by car to Myinchan District police station in Sagaing Division, central Burma, where police filed criminal charges against him under the National Flag Act, which carries a prison term punishment, said his friends, who asked not to be named out fear for retribution by authorities.

Some of the parents of the students arrested in Rangoon said they briefly met their children.

Htun Htun Oo, the father of Han Ni Oo, said he met his daughter at 10:00 am this morning. “My daughter said they were questioned from midnight to until 6:00 am without sleep. There is no charge against them yet,” he said. “It looks like that they were arrested because they are members of ABSFU.”

Additional reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay.