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A leading education reform activist, who spent months in hiding, has been arrested by Rangoon police.
Linn Htet Naing, also known as “James”, the vice chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), was apprehended on 3 October after months of hiding from police for his part in a demonstration in Letpadan in March. The protestors claimed that the National Education Law, which was passed by parliament last year, curtailed the academic freedom of both teachers and students.
Linn Htet Naing is the husband of Phyo Phyo Aung, secretary of the ABFSU, who was arrested at the Letpadan rally on 10 March, after the demonstrations were aggressively dispersed by riot police. Phyo Phyo Aung is one of many activists on trial at the Tharawaddy Township court in Pego [Bago] Division. She faces a range of politically motivated charges, including: including taking part in an unlawful assembly; joining or continuing an unlawful assembly, knowing it has been dispersed; rioting; voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty; and inciting the public to commit offences against the State or against public tranquility, according to a report released by Amnesty International.
Plain-clothes police officers also arrested ABFSU chairman Kyaw Ko Ko on 29 October in connection with his role in the same protests. The well-known student unionist was found in Thingangyun Township, Rangoon, and transported to Aung Tha Pyay, the interrogation centre of the police forces’ Special Branch.
Kyaw Ko Ko appeared before the Kamayut Township Court, also in Rangoon, before being transferred to Insein prison, where he is currently being held.
Amnesty International has confirmed that the ABFSU chairman will face up to six years and six months in prison if convicted.
Kyaw Ko Ko was previously arrested in 2008 for his involvement in the Saffron Revolution, but was released in the presidential prisoner amnesty in 2012.
More than 50 activists detained during the Letpadan protests remain incarcerated, amid claims that the activists lack access to proper healthcare and enough food and water.
Read more about the crackdown on student activists at Letpadan