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 18, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Dagon University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Myanmar (Burma)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 21, 2022, four students from Dagon University reportedly went missing, followed by two more students the next day. All seven are believed to have been taken by the military junta.

According to Myanmar Now, Khant Zin Win, Thura Maung Maung, Zaw Lin Naing, Thiha Htet Zaw and Hein Htet disappeared shortly after one of them called the chairperson of Dagon University Student Union, Min Htet Han, to report that a military vehicle had entered their street. The following day, two other students, Thet Paing Oo and Khant Lin Maung Maung, also went missing. All seven students had participated in anti-coup protests but were not members of the student union. 

Min Htet Han strongly believes that the students were abducted by the military. Their disappearance has been reported to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. As of April 26, their whereabouts remained unknown and the military council refused to respond to Myanmar Now inquiries on the cases.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the disappearance of current and former students, apparently due to the exercise of their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression – conduct which is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from taking action to restrict or retaliate against students’ expressive activity. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the disappearance of current and former students in response to their expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE & CORRECTION: In a closed-door trial on November 30, 2022, a military tribunal convicted and sentenced the students to death on charges that they were involved in the shooting of a branch manager of a state-owned bank. Officials have not publicly commented on the evidentiary grounds for the students’ conviction and sentencing. A prison spokesperson told Radio Free Asia in December 2022 that their sentences would not be carried out for several months and that students could appeal the sentences. SAR also corrected this report to note that all seven individuals are current students of Dagon University; a previous version noted that one of the students was an alumnus.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).ဒဂုံတက္ကသိုလ်ကျောင်းသာ/