Beginning on January 26, 2018, at least 34 students from five universities in Myanmar have reportedly been expelled in retaliation for their participation in peaceful protests on campus.
Beginning on January 22, 2018, students at several universities throughout Myanmar began a series of protests demanding increases in education funding and other changes in education policy. The protests lasted a total of four days. Beginning the day after the protests ended, universities reportedly began issuing notices of expulsion to their students, on the grounds that their protests had violated disciplinary rules. As of this report, the expelled include: twelve students (and two individuals who had not registered) from Yadanabon University; eleven students from Yamethin Technological University; six students from Meikhtilar Economic University; four students from Mohnyin Degree College, and one student from Meikhtilar Technological University.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about disciplinary actions against students in retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. Universities have a responsibility to refrain from wrongful disciplinary action taken against students for exercising their rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association.