Sittwe:School closed following protests

Sittwe: The Government Technical College in Sittwe was closed down by authorities on Tuesday after students demonstrated against an increase in school bus fares on Monday, said Ko Kyaw Myint, a college student.

“The college authorities announced the school would be closed immediately on July 6, soon after the demonstration, as authorities were worried the protests would continue into the next day,” he said.

Over 300 students from the college staged a demonstration on Monday by marching on   the streets from the school to the state administration office in Sittwe, after the school bus fares were increased suddenly.

“We staged the demonstration in front of the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council’s office demanding the school bus fare be reduced. We called off our demonstration after the authorities promised the fares would return to normal,” he said.

The demonstration started at the college at 3 pm, when the school buses demanded 200 Kyat per trip from each student. The fare had previously been only 100 Kyat.

“We were unable to pay 200 Kyats as bus fare for one way, so we all decided to stage a demonstration by marching to the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council office to state our demands. We started our walk at 3 pm and reached the office at 8:30 pm. When we arrived at the office we demonstrated and demanded a reduction in the school bus fares,” he said.

Government authorities promised to reduce the fares, but the college authorities still announced the school would be closed the next day. According to sources, many students are now avoiding the school out of fear that authorities will take action for the demonstration.

“The college authorities announced it would close the school on July 6, but many students will not go to school today on July 7 apprehensive of action by the authorities. The school is to remain closed through next Sunday,” the student added.

The school bus owners had to demand the 200 Kyats for a one-way fare from students after steadily losing profits. In the past the bus owners received fuel from the government to ply between Sittwe and the college, but the government stopped supplying the fuel after handing over operations to the privately-owned Htoo Company, led by business tycoon Teza.

The Htoo Company has been unable to supply fuel to the school buses as earlier, and the buses subsequently demanded double fare from students.

Two years ago there were similar student demonstrations after the buses raised their fares, but the bus drivers later cut their fares after the government authorities intervened.

KNU imparts basic military training

A month long basic military training programme was wrapped up by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) battalions 201 and 101 during the weekend.

The closing ceremony was held on Saturday morning in the KNU controlled area. Saw Pwe Htaw, headmaster of the basic military training school spoke at length about the aim behind imparting this kind of military training.

“The aim of the military training is to understand the concept of the military and have basic political knowledge. A soldier must possess such knowledge. If a soldier does not have military training, it’s like the soldier killing himself in battle. Therefore, the need for such training.”

The military training was imparted on May 24. There were 56 solders participating. The basic military training entailed the use of guns and military equipments, guerrilla tactics, basic political concept and military discipline, Saw Pwe Htaw said.

Saw El Kabo, a trainee aged 22, said “the knowledge acquired will be very useful when I go to the front line. I have acquired knowledge of how to deal with people. I am proud at being able to attend the training.

Likewise, Mann Shar Thara (38) said “I will use the military knowledge for Karen revolution until we succeed.”

The KNU, an ethnic armed group, has struggled for equal rights and self determination since 1949. It has revolted against successive military dictatorships in Burma. During the over 60 years, KNU has successfully imparted basic military training, officer training and basic political training.

by KIC