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Thousands of academics in Myanmar suspended over anti-junta strikes

THOUSANDS of academic and other university staff opposed to Myanmar’s ruling junta have been suspended after striking against the military regime, a teacher’s group said today.

The suspension of over 11,000 staff, announced by the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation, came as universities reopened after a year of pandemic lockdowns.

University students and teachers have been at the forefront of protests against the February 1 coup, when the army detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and halted a decade of democratic reforms.

Thirty-seven-year-old university rector Thandar, who only gave her first name for fear of reprisals, told Reuters: “I feel upset to give up a job that I adored so much, but I feel proud to stand against injustice.

“My department summoned me today. I’m not going. We shouldn’t follow the orders of the military council.”

A professor on a fellowship in the United States said that she was told she would have to declare opposition to the strikes or lose her job. She said that her university authorities told her that every scholar would be tracked down and forced to choose.

The junta-controlled Global New Light newspaper said that teachers and students should co-operate to get the education system started up again. “Political opportunists do not wish to see such development by committing sabotage acts,” it said.

About 180 students at the public West Yangon Technical University have been suspended for boycotting classes.

Alternative education minister Zaw Wai Soe, of a shadow government of national unity set up by opponents of the military rule, said he was touched that students had told him they would only return “when the revolution prevails.”

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