RANGOON — Protesters took to the streets across Burma on Friday to demand the release of all students and their supporters detained following the police crackdown at Letpadan on Mar. 10.
At least eight people were arrested, three in Rangoon and five in Myin Chan, Mandalay Division.
Protests in support of the detained students took place on Friday in Burma’s biggest cities Rangoon and Mandalay as well as in Myin Chan; Monywa, Sagaing Division; Chauk, Magwe Division; Taungoo, Pegu Division; and Hinthada and Myaung Mya in Irrawaddy Division.
In Rangoon, one of the leaders of the core group of student protesters who were beaten and arrested in Letpadan, Nanda Sit Aung, was detained on Friday along with two others, according to Police Lt-Col Win Kyi of Rangoon’s West District police office.
“[Police] caught Nanda Sit Aung and two other people in Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township,” he told The Irrawaddy.
About 60 people attended the Rangoon protest which ended after about 30 minutes. Around 20 demonstrators were students who had taken part in the peaceful march from Mandalay to Rangoon, begun on Jan. 20, in protest at the National Education Law.
Protesters carried student flags, shouted slogans and held signs which said “No Violence” and “For the safety of the public, take action on the people responsible for the crackdown.”
Before Nanda Sit Aung was arrested, he shouted to the crowd that their goal of education reform was still not finished and that they needed to continue their push.
On Thursday, Burma’s Upper House of parliament voted to pass an amended National Education Law which incorporated some of the students’ demands.
Ei Ei Moe of youth organization Generation Wave told The Irrawaddy, “we will continue to hold protests again and again until the government releases the detained students and their supporters and takes action on the people responsible for the crackdown.”
On Thursday, authorities filed criminal charges against 69 students and their supporters who have been held in Tharrawaddy prison for more than two weeks following the police crackdown in Letpadan, Pegu Division.
In Mandalay, about 20 youth riding motorcycles and holding symbolic “fighting peacock” flags shouted slogans as they distributed pieces of paper on which was written “The violent government must step down.”
Police and township administration officers attempted to halt the protesters but they managed to avoid authorities, concluding their protest after one hour.
Demonstrators in Myin Chan were not so lucky, with police halting the protest shortly after it began, arresting student leaders and some locals.
Nyan Myint Than and Si Thu Myat, second year students of Myin Chan Degree College were arrested together with Sein Win, Kyaw Than Tun and Ma Phyu—locals who supported the students.
Family members said they were currently detained at Myin Chan Myoma Police station.
Zarni Mann is reporting from Mandalay.