Dozens of Student Activists in Myanmar Court

YANGON (DPA) — Dozens of student activists appeared in court Wednesday near the Myanmar town where they were arrested two weeks ago during a protest against a new education law.

A total of 127 protesters – including 65 students, 10 monks and 52 civilians – were arrested in Letpadan, 145 kilometres north of Yangon, police said, after a week-long standoff turned violent on March 10.

Police were preventing the activists, who had started their protest march in January, from reaching the commercial capital of Yangon.

The monks and 28 students have since been released. But the other 89 detainees face charges of "trying to harm the stability of the country," police said, according to state-run media.

"We are still inquiring about what kind of charges would be brought against them," said Robert San Aung of the Myanmar Lawyer Network.

The crackdown on the protest rally comes amid international concern that the political reform process in Myanmar has stalled, following legal action against activists and journalists.

Students rallied in Myanmar for months, calling for changes to the education law including decentralisation of the school system, allowing student unions and teaching ethnic minority languages.

Talks between the government and activists have led to proposed amendments to the legislation, which are currently being debated by parliament.

 

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