Police Release 20 Detained During Student Protest Crackdown

By San Yamin Aung 24 March 2015

RANGOON — Pegu Division police said they released 20 people from Tharawaddy Prison on Tuesday who had been detained since the brutal police crackdown on the Letpadan student protest on March 10.

“We released 20 out of 100 remaining detainees today since there is not enough evidence to sue them,” Pegu Division Deputy Police Chief Win Sein told The Irrawaddy, adding that those released were local residents.

“We checked with the video recordings of the crackdown, statements from eyewitnesses, and we questioned them during the investigation. We found that they weren’t involved in the protest. They were just watching the crackdown and ran away when the protest was dispersed. So we freed them,” he said.

Win Sein said police would announce the various charges against the remaining detainees on Wednesday.

The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has been documenting the detention and legal process against the students and it has said most are charged with offenses such as incitement, harming a public servant and rioting, charges that carry punishments of up to several years’ imprisonment.

A total of 127 people, including students and their supporters, were arrested when riot police violently dispersed and beat participants in an effort to end a week-long student protest calling for an overhaul of the Education Law.

Seventeen of the detained were conditionally released on March 12; another 10 demonstrators and two journalists were released on March 13.