10/30/2015, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Yangon: student leader arrested as government clampdown ahead of vote gathers pace

Plainclothes agents arrested Kyaw Ko Ko, 34-year old president of All Burma Federation of Student Unions. He was on the run for seven months to escape arrest. He had led a protest in Yangon in support of young people protesting in Letpadan. He is being held under interrogation at an unknown location.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Burmese student leader, on the run for seven months to escape an arrest warrant issued by the Burmese authorities for his role in the protests against the education reform, has been arrested in Yangon.

According to state police sources, Kyaw Ko Ko, 34-year old president of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), was arrested yesterday in the commercial capital of Myanmar. The leader of the student movement was caught by officers near a market in the town of Thingangkun, in the metropolitan area of ​​Yangon.

Yesterday's arrest of the ABFSU President is the latest by the Burmese authorities against students and youth leaders, who have led or promoted a peaceful protest against school reform between February and March,.

The appeals  and objections of human rights activists and NGOs for the release of political prisoners (over one hundred) and arrested students, ahead of the November 8 elections have proven fruitless.

Instead, government authorities seem to be tightening censorship and repression of free thought, ahead of the vote, nullifying the openings of the recent past that seemed to put an end to decades of military dictatorship.

Compared to the 2010 elections, boycotted by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the former Burma has embarked on a path of reform that has brought some changes. However, in recent months the process of democratization has suffered a sharp slowdown.

Kyaw Ko Ko had come under fire from the police for having promoted a protest in Yangon in support of young people protesting in the central town of Letpadan, one of the hotspots of the student struggle in recent months. A police official, behind anonymity, confirmed the arrest made by plainclothes officers and added that now the young man was now being "interrogated" without giving further details.

Reached by Radio Free Asia (RFA) the young man’s father Kyaw Aye adds: "He called me to tell me he was arrested, but says he has no idea where he was taken." The father went to the Kamayut police station, but agents "deny having him in custody."

Earlier this month two other activists were arrested for posting criticism of the army on Facebook. The military remains the real power in the country in spite of the process of "democratization" initiated by President Thein Sein in 2011.

A process that, after bringing the easing of sanctions, has halted in recent months raising an alarm on human rights. Confirming increasing repression, the Burmese authorities have issued an arrest warrant for another student leader, the young San Hnin Ei, for his role in the protests in March.

 

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