Target: President Thein Sein of Myanmar
Goal: Immediately release peaceful student activists.
A brutal police charge ended days of peaceful protest in the town of Letpadan, where over 100 students, villagers and monks had gathered to protest recent education reforms. Following the arrests, 65 students were charged with various rioting and unlawful assembly charges, some of which could land these peaceful activists up to nine and a half years in prison, reports Human Rights Watch. Adding insult to injury, none of the officers who violently lashed out at the protesters and beat them with batons will be investigated or charged for their actions. Demand all activists be released and that the charges against them be dropped.
The protests, which began in November 2014, were sparked by proposed reforms to Myanmar’s education bill, which many students felt impinged on their rights. As the protests increased and tensions rose, the government agreed to begin four-way talks with lawmakers, education advocates and students seeking compromise. The government eventually agreed to the students’ demands—at least on principle—which included a promise not to arrest student activists, says All Burma Federation of Student Unions member Nanda Sit Aung, as reported by Radio Free Asia.
The talks began to break down following the February 2015 agreement, culminating in the latest violent display. The activists had planned a march across multiple towns and cities in protest and were allowed passage despite the technical illegality of the protest—presumably in accordance with the four-party agreement—until the activists reached Letpadan where arrests occurred.
On March 27, two weeks after the arrests, students across the nation took to the streets demanding the release of the incarcerated student activists. Radio Free Asia reports that at least eight of these protesters are being detained.
Myanmar’s student unions have long been a barometer for the country’s treatment of its citizens. These arrests highlight the injustices of the Burmese government.
Demand the immediate release of all student activists and urge the Burmese government to drop all charges against them.
Dear President Thein Sein,
The mass arrests of student activists protesting the national education bill exposes the violence citizens are likely to be faced with when asking for change. As part of the agreement reached in the four-party talks in February, no student was to be arrested, though many are currently detained.
None of the police involved in the violent arrests are being investigated or charged, despite their brutal response to the protest.
I urge you to listen to the people of Burma and release these peaceful activists immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: frwl via Wikimedia Commons