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 [asked for permission] to hold a one-day protest, on February 9th only. But, based on the number of student participants, we will again decide how many days we will continue the protest. It [protests] will be finished 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 February 11th, before marching to Rangoon.
The government has already held four-sector talks with students twice, but has postponed talks until February 12th, to allow student groups and the government to discuss nine-point meeting rules. With the delay of talks, numbers of protesting students have been increasing.
According to Dr. Aung Naing Oo, Mon State Hluttaw 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, February 9th will mark the first protests in the state as students march through downtown Moulmein 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.
“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,” said Banyar Aung Moe.
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 February 9th.