Myanmar’s military junta has been rounding up teachers who are members of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CMD) and have been giving online lessons at a school linked to the shadow National Unity Government (NUG).
Kaung for You was set up to educate pupils who are boycotting classes or have been unable to attend school. It offers online education by CDM teachers for around 20,000 children across the country.
“We heard that up to 15 people were arrested in Yangon, Mandalay, Shan state and Thanintharyi region,” a member of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation (MTF) told RFA on Monday.
“The parents of the students are so worried. I warned Kaung for You school to be careful before the arrests. Anything can happen at any time when [the school] is public,” said the MTF member, who declined to be named for safety reasons.
The arrests took place between July 13 and July 18 and included Kaung for You founder Kaung Thaik Soe, the assistant director for education at Myitthar township in Mandalay region.
The school’s plan to move from online lessons to classroom teaching last Wednesday was halted by the arrests that day of Kaung Thaik Soe and two teachers. The junta announced the arrests three days later.
The school says its website was then hacked, allowing the military council to locate and arrest other teachers.
Students and parents told RFA they were also afraid of being arrested if their names and addresses had also been leaked.
The NUG’s Ministry of Education denounced the arrests as a violation of children’s rights to free education. It said it would offer help to the detained teachers, continue courses for pupils and open an emergency hotline to provide advice and assistance.
Aside from school boycotts, many children in Myanmar have been denied education since the coup on Feb.1, 2021 due to a surge in attacks on schools, teachers and students.
There were at least 260 attacks on schools between May 2021 and April this year, non-profit organization Save the Children said in a report last month.
In April bombs were found in four schools and there were three explosions in or close to schools. There were also 33 recorded cases of educational buildings being set on fire, 10 direct attacks on teachers and 10 schools occupied by the military.
The ruling junta says at least 40 teachers have been killed in demonstrations and fighting between troops and militias.