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Myanmar police baton charge protesting students, 120 held

Myanmar police baton charge protesting students, 120 held
Hundreds of riot police charged at students protesting Myanmar’s new education law, pummeling them with batons and then dragging them into trucks, bringing a quick, harsh end to a weeklong standoff. Authorities said more than 120 people were arrested.

Security forces threw stones and jumped over fences as they broke up the demonstration. Dozens of students and monks were chased into a Buddhist monastery, said Honey Oo, a student leader.
“Many people were beaten and several arrested,” she said by telephone.

After the crackdown, police were seen celebrating and shouting, “Victory! Victory!”
Information minister Ye Htut said 127 people, including 65 students, were detained and 16 police and eight demonstrators had been injured.

While there were no reported deaths, Tuesday’s violence served as a reminder of Myanmar’s recent days of brutal, authoritarian rule. A European Union delegation that has been training Myanmar’s police in crowd control issued a statement expressing deep concern over the use of force against protesters and calling for a formal investigation.

The nominally civilian government installed four years ago has been grappling with the consequences of newfound freedoms of expression. It has been especially sensitive about public protests, arresting hundreds of people since taking office for peacefully expressing their views.

In January, about a hundred students started marching from Myanmar’s second biggest city, Mandalay, to the old capital, Yangon, to protest a new law that puts all decisions about education policy and curriculum in the hands of a group largely made up of government ministers, which critics say undermines the autonomy of universities.

The demonstrators were joined by monks and other activists, bringing their number to around 200 in the last nine days, when they were blocked by police and began a sit-in on a road near a monastery in Letpadan, about 140 kilometers north of Yangon. Early Tuesday, the two sides had appeared close to reaching an agreement.

Agencies

Agencies

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