On March 7, 2021, soldiers violently took over the campus of Mandalay Technological University (MTU) in an apparent effort to use the campus for military purposes and to quash anti-coup protest activities.
Protests spread across Myanmar following a military coup on February 1, 2021. University students and faculty have been regular fixtures at these protests. Military and police have responded to the protests with violence, detentions of protesters, and raids of university campuses.
In the early morning hours on March 7, soldiers arrived at MTU’s front gate in several trucks and demanded faculty and staff give the military use of the campus as a base. After MTU staff denied the soldiers’ demands, more soldiers arrived. Troops then began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at MTU staff. Soldiers opened the campus gates by force, and took control of the campus.
At least one MTU security guard and another member of the MTU community were injured from the rubber bullets. Two MTU faculty members also sustained injuries after being beaten by soldiers.
Sources indicate that military forces have taken over a number of higher education campuses since the start of the coup, though an exact figure is unavailable as of this report.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force and entry of troops onto, and occupation of a university campus in an apparent effort to restrict the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by 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, the use of force and entry of troops onto campus, especially when intended to restrict expressive activity, undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.