Students Arrested in Mandalay for Graffiti Protest

By Zarni Mann 2 July 2015

Four students from Mandalay’s Yadanabon University were arrested on Monday after they spray-painted messages critical of the government on the university’s grounds.

Plainclothes police officers in Amarapura Township arrested Aung San Oo, Nyan Lin Htet and Jit Tu on Monday, according to their friends and family.

Naing Ye Wai, the president of Yadanabon University’s Student Union, was asked to present at the police station in Amarapura where he was also arrested and immediately sent to Mandalay’s Oh Bo prison.

“I was with Naing Ye Wai at the police station and the police suddenly said they must arrest him right away. A few minutes later, my son called me to say that he was arrested too,” said Aung San Win, the father of Aung San Oo.

“The police said they were responsible for a graffiti campaign last week and they sent them to prison via Amarapura police station,” he said.

On June 26, a group of students from Yadanabon University spray-painted messages on the university grounds calling on the quasi-civilian government to step down and demanding the release of jailed student activists involved in the education reform movement.

The students also spray-painted the words, “Amend the constitution’s article 436.”

Article 436 requires that 75 percent of lawmakers approve proposed amendments to much of the 2008 Constitution, giving the military—which controls 25 per cent of parliamentary seats—an effective veto.

A recent amendment bill which in part recommended reducing this requirement to 70 percent was shot down in Burma’s Union Parliament last week.

According to police records, the detained students will face charges under articles 114, 143, 147 and 505(b) of Burma’s penal code.

These articles stipulate punishment for persons present when an offence is committed, being a member of an unlawful assembly, rioting, and causing fear or public alarm that may induce offences against the State.

The police records also stated that other students who participated in the graffiti protest are being sought.

The four detained students participated in the protest march from Mandalay to Rangoon against the controversial National Education Law, which ended abruptly in March after a brutal police crackdown at Letpadan in Pegu Division.

The four students were arrested during the Letpadan crackdown but later released. They have since participated in sporadic protests demanding the release of some 80 students and their supporters who remain in jail awaiting the verdict of an ongoing trial.

Naing Ye Wai is already facing a lawsuit at a court in Amarapura for unlawful assembly.