[JURIST] Police in Myanmar on Monday prevented around 200 students from marching to protest a new law that they claim limits academic freedom. The new law was passed by parliament in September and puts all policy and curriculum decisions in the hands of mostly government ministers. The law bans students from forming unions and ignores the call for local languages to be used in education in ethnic states. Students argue that the law undermines the autonomy of universities. The rally began in Mandalay about a month ago. Students were planning to continue their march to Yangon when they were met with over a dozen police vehicles [AP report], including a water cannon truck, on Monday morning.
Reform [BBC timeline] in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] has happened slowly in the four years since the dissolution [BBC report] of the nation’s military government and transition to a civilian regime in 2011. Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official website] said [JURIST report] that Myanmar must end the widespread abuse of minority rights in order to keep on its progression toward becoming a democratic state. Earlier in February Myanmar lawmakers said that the country’s president has approved [JURIST report] a law allowing a referendum on amendments to its constitution later this year. Also in February Myanmar’s legislature passed [JURIST report] a new law granting temporary citizens the right to vote in the constitutional referendum. In November Myanmar’s parliament announced that it would consider amending the country’s 2008 constitution [text] following talks between President Thein Sein and top army officials and opposition leadership.