Police charge Myanmar workers with rioting

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Fourteen people arrested during a hundreds-strong strike by factory workers in Myanmar are charged by the police with rioting.

Police broke the industrial action on Wednesday, arresting the workers who had blocked roads to the commercial hub of Yangon — the country’s largest city — in a protest over wages, reported a local newspaper on Friday.

The Global New Light of Myanmar said that those arrested, including eight male and six female garment factory workers, “face up to two years in prison and fines if convicted” under the Rioting Act.

Also on Thursday, police arrested over a dozen people after they attacked a group of students and activists protesting against a new education law.

Campaigners attending the protest rally said about 15 activists had been beaten and taken away by uniformed officers and plainclothesmen during the demonstration.

The Thursday demonstration was held in Yangon to express solidarity with a similar student protest in the central town of Letpadan, where some 200 protesters have been besieged by riot police for three days.

Tensions have been running high in the Asian country since Tuesday when students ignored a deadline set by security officials to disperse and abandon a planned protest march to Yangon.

The country is undergoing democratic reforms, shaking off the dust of decades-long authoritarianism.

Myanmar’s government, which replaced the junta rule in 2011, has pledged to end the civil wars, which have been flaring on and off since independence in 1948, as a key part of its reforms.

There, however, have been concerns about the reformation process being stalled as well as the security forces’ having maintained their repressive reflex forged during the junta era.

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