Myanmar opposition demands inquiry into police clashes with students

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 4:25 AM

By Jared Ferrie

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) demanded an inquiry on Wednesday into clashes between police protesters in which students, monks and journalists were beaten with batons and more than 100 people were arrested.

The violence erupted on Tuesday in the town of Letpadan, about 140 km (90 miles) to the north of Yangon. Students protesting against a proposed education law were blocked from marching to Yangon and were forcibly dispersed after a standoff which lasted more than a week.

"An investigation commission should be organized and its statement should be made to the public very soon," the NLD, headed by Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a statement.

The United States and European Union condemned the violence in Myanmar, which has been slowly allowing more democracy since a semi-civilian reformist government took power in 2011 after 49 years of military rule.

The government has not commented on the clashes but the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper blamed protesters, saying they turned the sit-in protest to "violence between both sides".

The newspaper said 16 policemen were injured and 127 people arrested, including 65 students.

Yangon has been the site of numerous student-led demonstrations, including those in 1988 that sparked a pro-democracy movement that spread throughout the country before being brutally suppressed by the military government.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel)