SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 13, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Yangon University of Economics

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Myanmar (Burma)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 13, 2021, soldiers reportedly arrested four Yangon University of Economics (YUECO) students, apparently for their opposition to the military coup.

The military accused the four students— Yin Myat Noe Oo, the treasurer of the student union; Khant Thu Aung, the student union chair; Phyo Kyaw; and Min Hein Khant—of supplying information to a foreign journalist. Nearly one year later, a prison court sentenced them to three years in prison, with hard labor, for “incitement.”

In February 2022, one of the four students, Yin Myat Noe Oo, was sentenced to three years in prison on a separate charge of incitement for allegedly putting up posters that were critical of the military junta.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of students in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — 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. Government authorities and state security forces have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against nonviolent exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate individuals, arrests intended to restrict student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.