MANDALAY — The Myanmar Teachers’ Federation condemned the Ministry of Education on Sunday for the dismissal of student protesters from their respective universities and called for reconsideration.
The statement issued by the MTF on Sunday said that the number of student protesters dismissed from their universities following a brief detainment is up to 36 and that more are on a list for dismissal.
“Dismissal of the students who protested for an increase in the education budget could scare students into not exercising freedom of expression in the future,” said Dr. Sai Khaing Myo Tun, president of the MTF.
“The students can be given a warning to start, according to the rules and regulations at each university.
We condemned the dismissal and urge the ministry to reconsider it,” he added.
When asked by journalists at an event in Mandalay, the chief minister of Mandalay said the student protesters were handled in line with the law.
However, the MTF said the actions of the authorities go against democratic ways.
“Authorities should not be so harsh. The immediate dismissal will jeopardize freedom of expression,” he added.
The MTF said it would concentrate on negotiations with the ministry to ease the situation.
According to the expelled students, the number of students dismissed from their universities reached 40 on Monday.
“We think all 72 students who were detained will be expelled,” said Ye Myo Swe, a law student from Yadanabon University.
The students said they would have to submit an appeal in order to continue their studies, which they do not accept.
“We will not return to class until the dismissals are abolished. We will not appeal our dismissals,” the students said.
They added that they would continue to press for an increased education budget, as well as other requests that benefit student welfare.
“No matter what punishment is on the way, we will do what we have to do. If I am arrested, there will be another person who will carry on,” said Ye Myo Swe.
For the first time under the current government, students from Mandalay, Meiktila, Sagaing, Monywa, Kyaukse, Mohnyin and Pathein gathered at Mandalay’s Yadanabon University and set up a protest camp for an increase in the education budget on Jan. 22.
Seventy-two protesters, including 13 female students, were briefly detained on Jan. 25, and then escorted home.
The student union from Yangon University held a press conference on Monday and stated that it would march in protest if the expelled students were not readmitted.