Nine students today face three months in prison for protesting ongoing internet outage in Rakhine state.
The East Yangon University students were arrested yesterday and charged under Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law for organizing the protest against a five-month internet shutdown. Each student faces a maximum sentence of three months in prison.
“What is going on in Rakhine has become a concern for us, the students,” Sai Thu Wun, the president of the East Yangon University student union, told Khit Thit. “We had to do what we had to do because a school was shelled and bombed. We could not quietly watch it happening. So they (the police) respond harshly when it is something to do with the military or peace. We organized it yesterday and they are arresting students today.”
Dozens of students joined Saturday’s protest in Hledan, a congested area of Yangon, to demand the authorities restore internet access and show accountability for the shelling of a Rakhine State primary school and allow media access into the area.
An internet blackout has been imposed in five townships in Rakhine and Chin states since Feb. 3 following a previous ban lifted in September. Government troops are reportedly fighting ethnic Rakhine insurgents in the area.
At least 19 primary students were injured when their school was hit by a mortar on Feb. 14, according to the local reports. Both the Burmese military and rebels have denied responsibility.
Another demonstration was held Saturday in the Rakhine capital of Sittwe against the internet shutdown. It reportedly went without incident.