Yangon: Myanmar authorities have freed several students detained after a bloody protest, but others involved in the stand-off over a new education law will face charges including disrupting stability, which carries a two-year prison term.
Yee Mon, a Yangon university student who was released today, said that 12 students have been freed and about 15 more were expected to be released later today.
"We didn't break the law but we were peacefully protesting for academic policy change," said the 19-year-old.
The government announced yesterday that students who are currently in university will be freed on humanitarian grounds, while 10 Buddhist monks detained after a police crackdown on the protest in Letpadan, about 140 kilometers north of Yangon, had also been released.
Several student leaders and other protesters were brought to court under tight security yesterday and were charged with five different counts ranging from disrupting public tranquility, which can result in a prison term of up to two years, to joining an unlawful assembly, which carries a six-month prison sentence or a fine.
Nearly 130 people, including about 60 students, were detained Tuesday after hundreds of riot police charged their protest, pummeling them with batons and then dragging them into trucks, bringing a harsh end to a weeklong standoff.
The students say that the new law puts all decisions about education policy and curriculum in the hands of a group largely made up of government ministers, which critics say undermines the autonomy of universities.