Teachers join Myanmar university student protest

MANDALAY - Several teachers from the All Burma Federation of Teachers' Unions joined a protest on March 11 organised by students at Yandanabon University to condemn the crackdown on the main boycott student column in Letpadan on the afternoon of March 10.

"The incumbent government declaring itself a "democracy government" has now clearly showed its mask. With the aim to break-up public demonstrators who had no weapons, the international community, including the European Union, conducted training courses for the Myanmar Police Force.

That's why police members beat and arrested the student protesters in this brutal crackdown. The police's actions were completely out of line with human rights standards.

Now, the students' blood is falling on the ground. The public and their parents are now crying. We do not have democracy," said a student protesters from the Yadanabon University Student Union.

The student demonstrators staged a protest in the compound of Yandanabon University and displayed photographs of the police crackdown on the students in Letpadan on billboards.

Later, they paid tribute to the students of the main boycott column and prayed for the students by lighting candles. They also asked police how to resolve the crackdown on students.

"Regarding the crackdown on the students, President Thein Sein already formed an investigation commission. The Deputy Minister of the Home Affairs is the chairman. He is the one who ordered the police to crack down on the students.

We do not accept him as the commission's chairman. We strongly denounced him. The commission leader must be a respectful person," said Thu Ta, a lecturer in the English Department of Yadanabon University, who also serves as chairman of the All Burma Federation of Teachers' Unions.

The student protesters chanted slogans such as: 'No violence', 'We strongly denounce the crackdown on the main boycott student column', and 'Release the detained students'.

Meanwhile, local police have kept tight security at the entrance to Mandalay University since the beginning of the crackdown on students in Letpadan, and university instructors have been monitoring the students in alternating shifts, according to the students.

"Armed police officers have monitored the students for about two days. On the first day, not only police vehicles but also light trucks full of police officers kept tight security. We aren't terrorists, and we haven't committed any violence. We have no weapons.

That's why we would like to say the police should not monitor us or try to control us for security reasons," said one female student who is pursuing a Master's degree at the Mandalay University.

"Keeping tight security on the students who don't possess any weapons shouldn't be possible under a democratic government. We strongly denounced it. If they continue to violently attack the students, education will never improve," said Thu Ta.

Addressing the tight security at Mandalay University, Police Col Thet Naing said that the police are keeping security only to restrict media presence, not to suppress the protests.