LETPADAN, PEGU Division — Students in Letpadan began attempts shortly before midday on Tuesday to barge through security forces after negotiations between the two sides broke down. Despite being granted permission to continue their journey to Rangoon shortly before 10am, conflict arose when authorities refused to allow the hoisting of student flags. Protesters are substantially outnumbered by the police. After attempting to remove barricades, a group of less than 200 students have so far unsuccessfully tried to push through several hundred police officers. Protesters formed columns of five people each, led by Buddhist monks, to push back the security lines, resulting in several injuries as protesters fainted or lacerated themselves on the barbed-wire barricades. So far, the police have successfully resisted the push. As of 12:30pm there had been no arrests or police counterattacks. [irrawaddy_gallery] Under an intensely hot midday sun, some students have taken a rest from the push and are preparing for a further attempt. Others suffering from heat or injury are receiving free medical treatment. Both sides are blaring loudspeakers, with police warning demonstrators that both those involved in the protest and those supporting students will face prosecution. Students are shouting back, saying that statutes against peaceful protest are dictatorial and deserve to be opposed.
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