On July 7, 2019, authorities in Yangon, Myanmar, reportedly detained and prosecuted eight students for participating in a peaceful march commemorating the 1962 Yangon University protests.
Since 2010, students in Yangon have reportedly held an annual public march on July 7 to mark the anniversary of the 1962 student protests. State authorities reportedly killed as many as one hundred students following the 1962 campus protests against strict university policies imposed by Myanmar’s military government.
Students reportedly organized a march through the streets of Yangon on July 7, 2019 to coincide with the anniversary of the 1962 protests. During the march, students reportedly chanted slogans calling for the release of students previously arrested by the government and an end to “fascism” and killings of members of the country’s Rakhine ethnic group.
Between July 12 and 14, authorities summoned six of the students— Ko Min Thway Thit, Ma Ei Thiri Kyaw, Ko Sai Thu Wun, Ko Wai Yan Phyo Moe, Ko Thura Lin, and Ko Khant Min Htet—to court, charged them with “protesting without permission from authorities,” and reportedly released them on bail. Another two students—Ko Zin Min Phyo and Ko Han Min Htet—were reportedly arrested on the same charges, refused to pay bail, and were transferred to Insein Prison.
As of this report, it is unclear when the two detained students may be released or when any of the students will appear in court.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and prosecution of students in apparent retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Myanmar is Party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against such conduct, so long as it is carried out peacefully and responsibly. Such incidents undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.