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Education protestors appear in Mandalay court

Four activists – Sagaing Institute of Education students Zaw Ye Htet and Hnin Aung, and Mandalay University students Ye Myo Swe and Kaung Zaw Hein – demonstrate outside a government education office in Mandalay’s Chanaye Tharzan Township on 26 April 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

Four activists, detained for staging a protest against what they called “military-style oppression” within Burma’s education system, appeared at a court in Mandalay on Thursday.

The four – Sagaing Institute of Education students Zaw Ye Htet and Hnin Aung, and Mandalay University students Ye Myo Swe and Kaung Zaw Hein – were arrested after holding a demonstration outside a government education office in Mandalay’s Chanaye Tharzan Township on 26 April. They were subsequently charged under Article 19 of the Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Law.

Appearing at Chanaye Tharzan township court on Thursday, the four declared no confidence in the Burmese judicial system and said they would not cooperate with the court, according to a local man named Soe Moe Tun who attended the hearing as an observer.

“One of the students stood up and said that they do not accept the 2008 Constitution and that they would not cooperate in the trial proceedings as they have no confidence on the judicial system. They then sat with their backs to the judge,” said Soe Moe Naing.

“The judge told them they have a right to seek bail and enter a plea, but they ignored him and walked out of the courtroom back to their cells.”

He said the hearing only lasted 15 minutes.

One of the four protestors, All Burma Federation of Student Unions member Hnin Aung, also faces a charge under Article 18 of the Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Law for previously joining a labour protest in Sintgai Township.

“Ko Hnin Aung is also facing a separate charge in Sintgai for participating in a protest before the Thingyan holiday. He will have to travel there next week for that trial,” said Soe Moe Aung.