Mon State students will be holding a protest on 9th February in downtown Moulmein, Mon State in opposition to the education bill.
The Mon State Student Union will lead protesters in their demands for student rights and for ethnic native language instruction to be recognized under the Burma’s national education law, according to Ko Phone Myat Moe, spokesperson for the Mon State Student Union (MSSU).
“At the moment, we have only [asked for permission] to hold a one-day protest, on 9th February. But, based on the number of student participants, we will again decide how many days we will continue the protest. We will stop [protests] if the government invites us for four-sector talks, as we have requested,” said Ko Phone Myat Moe.
Ko Phone Myat Moe continued that the MSSU does not have plans to join the group of students protesting in Rangoon yet, and will not request permission to join the protest.
However, according to Mizzima News, the Irrawaddy, Dawei and Moulmein student groups will join together on 11th February before marching to Rangoon.
The government has already held four-sector talks with students twice, but has postponed talks until 12th February to allow student groups and the government to discuss the nine-point meeting rules. With the delay of talks, numbers of protesting students has been increasing.
According to Dr. Aung Naing Oo, Mon State Hluttaw (parliament) representative, the students would face oppression from the authorities if they did not submit for permission to protest.
“It is not wrong for them to demand their rights. We, in Hluttaw politics, demand such rights, too. But, according to education law, there is no solid point for the acknowledgement of ethnic language…if they [students] did not submit for permission to protest peacefully, we are uncertain that we could help protect them [from the authorities],” said Dr. Aung Naing Oo.
Students began protesting the national education bill in January, while for Mon State students, 9th February will mark the first protests in the state as students march through downtown Mawlamyine City.
Nevertheless, according to Dr. Banyar Aung Moe, Amyotha Hluttaw representative, the education law already provides support for ethnic language instruction, and is currently being implemented.
He said: “The education law has provided a lot of opportunities for ethnic groups already. It does not mean that it does not necessarily need to be amended. But it is necessary to practice in accordance with rules. It is a good enough [law] to apply; such a good law has never existed before. The protesting students’ points of view are not different from this law, but what is different is the Student Union matter."
The Mon State Student Union held a forum earlier this month to discuss ethnic native language instruction and challenges of the education system. The MSSU’s next action will be to hold a student protest on 9th February.
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