Lecturer sentenced over student protests

26 May 2015
Lecturer sentenced over student protests
A student activist holds poster saying 'We don't want National Education Commission' as others shout slogans during the protest march in Mandalay, Myanmar, 20 January 2015. EPA/PYAE SONE AUNG

A Myanmar court has sentenced a university lecturer to three months in prison with hard labour for leading a demonstration during nationwide student protests that were violently suppressed by police, World Bulletin reported on 25 May.
Wai Yan Aung is the first to be sentenced for his involvement in protests against the National Education Law, which activists say stifles academic freedom and centralizes control over universities. Like dozens of others, he was charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law, a bill condemned by critics who say it is being used by the government to repress political dissent.
A district court in the south western Pathein region rejected the defence’s argument that the chief minister of the region had promised demonstrators that no one would be arrested for taking part in the march.
Seventy protestors remain in custody after a harsh police crackdown in March following months of demonstrations. The focal point of the crackdown was the town of Letpadan, some 140 kilometres (87 miles) from the commercial capital Yangon. Police beat protestors with truncheons before dragging them into trucks.
There were at least 157 political prisoners in Myanmar’s jails at the end of last month with hundreds more awaiting trial, according to the latest report by local rights group the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.