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Burmese authorities have been accused of backtracking over agreements made with education activists last month.
Fifteen representatives of the Committee for Democracy Education Movement, or CDEM, comprised of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) and University Students Union, or Ta-Ka-Tha, had been scheduled to attend a parliamentary briefing on amendments to National Education Law in Naypyidaw on Monday, though ABFSU members were absent after being detained in student protests last week.
The 12 activists attending the briefing rejected a claim by Information Minister Ye Htut that certain agreements made in the four-way talks – including non-prosecution of student protestors and their supporters – were no longer valid, and accused the government of a one-sided breaking of the understanding.
The Ta-Ka-Tha representatives on Monday wore black armbands to the meeting in protest against the use of civilian thugs who participated in the police crackdown of recent protests. They also held a one-minute silence for the ABFSU members who were not present.
Meanwhile, Pegu Division police have issued assurances that students being held in detention for their role in the Letpadan protest a week ago are in good health. Concerns had been raised by observers about the welfare of the activists, in particular student leader Min Thwe Thit.
Police Col. Win Sein, commander of Pegu Division police, said that Min Thwe Thit and other students – who were reportedly victims of police brutality on 10 March and have been in Tharawaddy prison since then – are all in good health.
Speaking to DVB, Police Col. Win Sein said: “I guarantee Min Thwe Thit’s well-being. He is in good health in the prison,” adding that other students who had previously been treated at the prison’s hospital with injuries sustained in the police action have also recovered.
“There are now no more students in the hospital, and I would like to clarify that Min Thwe Thit did not require or receive hospital treatment, as some believe. Students who suffered minor head injuries such as small swelling and cuts were admitted to hospital, and monitored for 24 hours and then discharged.”
127 people including students, civilians and reporters were arrested during the crackdown on the Letpadan protest and sent to prison in Tharawaddy. Twenty-seven students and two reporters were later released, but the remainder are still behind the bars.
Officials have previously said that innocent bystanders and “real students” will be realised, but Burma’s information ministry said in a statement on its website that “action will be taken” against those activists considered “masterminds” of the rally.