By THE IRRAWADDY
Myanmar’s military regime is using threats, dismissals and arrests to try and force striking school staff in Tanintharyi Region to return to work, after the junta’s reopening of public schools on June 1 flopped due to a lack of teachers.
Seven teachers in the region have been arrested for joining the civil disobedience movement (CDM) and refusing to work under the regime. On Monday, the junta sentenced three detained teachers to three years in prison each for incitement.
Less than a quarter of schools in Tanintharyi Region, southern Myanmar, opened on June 1 because so many teachers and education staff are on strike in protest at military rule. Those schools that have reopened are reporting a very low attendance of pupils, with parents and students choosing to boycott school enrolment under the regime.
A member of the Basic Education Teachers Union in Tanintharyi who requested anonymity said that several striking teachers and education staff have been told to return to work, or else the regime will arrest their family members and seize their possessions.
One township education administrator who was on strike for two months was forced back to work after her family were threatened, the teachers’ union member said.
Hundreds of teachers who have joined the CDM are now in hiding to avoid arrest.
Some 7,236 teachers and education staff in Taninitharyi Region were recently removed from their duties.
In Kin Maw Village in Tanintharyi, where just four out of 180 pupils at the local primary school are attending classes, parents were threatened alongside teachers in an effort to get children back in school.
In a video file shared by Khit Thit media, a military colonel told the Kin Maw teachers and village elders that he wants at least 90 students to show up by June 21, and threatened to seize their children if that fails to happen.
An official with the Myanmar Teachers Federation, who was recently suspended from one of Yangon’s universities for joining the CDM, said that despite the junta’s threats many of the striking teachers and education staff are determined to continue to fight until the fall of the dictatorship and the return of a civilian government elected by the people.
Original Post: The Irrawaddy