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: September 19, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Sagaing University of Education

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Myanmar (Burma)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 19, 2021, soldiers reportedly arrested Aye Nanda Soe, a fourth-year student of Sagaing University of Education and a chair of that university’s students’ union, in apparent connection with her anti-coup activism.

Soe was traveling on a bus from Mandalay to Sagaing when soldiers arrested her after checking her ID at a checkpoint near Sagaing.

In December, a member of Mandalay’s Yadanabon University Students Union told The Irrawaddy that Ma Aye Nandar Soe was being held in isolation, without being charged, at an interrogation camp in Mandalay. The source further stated that the military was denying her treatment for an unspecified illness. In April, the All Burma Federation of Student Unions stated on Twitter that Aye Nandar Soe was tortured during her interrogation; however, SAR has not found additional sources to corroborate this.

As of this report, authorities have not provided any public information on Soe’s status, including her whereabouts and what charges she faces, if any.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a university student union leader, in apparent connection with views, opinions, or associations — 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 — as well as reports of denied medical care and torture. 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 individual, arrests intended to restrict student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.