More than 300 students detained in Tamwe in early March hit with 505a charge

The regime has charged more than 300 students who were detained at a protest in Tamwe on March 3 after keeping their families in the dark about their status for two weeks. 

They were detained as police and soldiers used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to attack a march organised by the University of Yangon Students’ Union and the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.

At least five were injured by rubber bullets during the attack. Police initially detained 389 people but last week released 50 who are under the age of 18.

The students have been charged under section 505a of the Penal Code, which the junta recently amended to give prison sentences of up to three years for causing fear, spreading fake news or agitating against government employees.

Lawyers say they have been unable to obtain an exact list of names of those being held and that police have been evasive regarding the case. 

“The person in charge of the case was not present. We were told that he went to the court,” one of the lawyers said. “We can’t reach him via phone, so we followed him to Tamwe court, but there was no one at the court except security.” 

Parents have been informed about the charges but not the details of the court proceedings, the lawyer said. 

Because the military junta has shut down mobile internet, court proceedings have been adjourned as video conferencing is not available. In-person hearings were stopped last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We, the Students’ Union, do not believe in their judicial process and therefore we do not recognize these court proceedings as legitimate,” a student activist said, requesting anonymity. “The Students’ Union will continue to fight to topple the military regime.” 

Among those detained on March 3 was Wai Yan Phyo Moe, Vice President of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.

Three members of the central executive committee of the Yangon University Students’ Union were also arrested. They are Phone Htet Naung, Aung Phone Maw, and Lay Pyay Soe Moe.

The majority of those detained are from various universities in Yangon, with 176 being students of Yangon University. A few are from universities in rural areas of Myanmar. 

Hundreds of other students have also been arrested at protests in Mandalay and Magway, on February 28 and March 7. Only 19 of them have been released.


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