JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Myanmar security forces surrounded and cut off hundreds of student protesters in the Sanchaung Township district of Yangon Monday, provoking solidarity demonstrations across the country and prompting Western embassies and the UN Mission in Myanmar to issue urgent and rare calls for de-escalation of the situation and appeals for restraint. The student protest was broken up by police in the afternoon with multiple arrests, and – and has been the case in other urban settings recently, most notably Mandalay – fleeing protesters were taken in and hidden by sympathetic local residents. This time, however, the security forces succeeded in sealing off the district and began violent door-to-door searches, firing weapons, vandalizing property and threatening citizens as they went.
Law students reporting for JURIST in Myanmar just before internet shutdown early Tuesday AM MMT said 52 people had so far been arrested. People went out into the streets and neighborhoods in multiple cities and communities across the country, breaking curfew laws to stand with the students, who supporters said should be allowed to simply go home. Some protesters in Yangon who were in hiding were reported to be sitting indoors but in front of the main doors of their sheltering households so that the householders would be protected from violence by police and soldiers if they were discovered.
In other developments, troops moved into Mandalay University early Monday, and later in the day military reinforcements arrived at the University of Yangon as the military junta, which took power February 1, tightened its grip on educational institutions and public facilities like hospitals that might harbor dissenters.