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The principal column of student demonstrators who are marching to Rangoon from central Burma’s Mandalay have announced that they will take a ten-day break from their march during the school exam period, according to the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU).
ABFSU spokesperson Thiha Win Tin has said that members of the Mandalay column – which has now reached Pegu Division’s Letpadan – have decided to suspend their march from 19 to 28 February during school exams. The column, which does not contain any school students, has stated their intention to remain in Tharawaddy.
Amendments to the National Education Law, which has been the subject of the recent widespread protests, are due to be formally submitted to parliament on Wednesday.
The protesters have warned that will continue their march to Rangoon if parliament fails to approve the bill during this ten-day break.
Additional protest columns from central Burma’s Pokokku and Monywa, and southern Burma’s Tenasserim [Tanintharyi] and Moulmein [Mawlamyine] on 16 February announced a decision to take a 30-day hiatus from the protests.
The National Education Law was approved by the union parliament on 30 September amid objections that led to several public protests around the country.
In November, the ABFSU issued a 60-day deadline for the parliament to negotiate amendments of the law. These most recent protests, characterised by “columns” of students marching towards Rangoon, began as the deadline passed.
“Student unions have objected to the National Education Law ever since it was at the drafting stage,” said Swe Linn Tun, the Mandalay district chair of the ABFSU, speaking to DVB in November. “This law centralises control with the government, offers no guarantee for freedom of education, and does not include provisions to allow for the forming of student unions.”