In January, students began marching between Mandalay and Rangoon, demanding changes to a new education law which increases government control over how they are taught in Universities, and which discriminates against teaching in the languages of Burma's many ethnic groups. They have been supported by students protesting right across the country.
From the start they have faced obstruction and harassment from Burmese government authorities, but in the past week it has escalated to violent attacks and arrests. Now there are fears of even more violence and arrests. In Burma people are fearful of a repeat of the crackdowns, killings and arrests which took place against students and peaceful protestors in 1988, 1996 and 2007.
And the response of the UK, USA, EU, and other countries which have been praising reforms in Burma? Almost complete silence.
Some countries, including the UK, have been involved behind the scenes in helping the Burmese government with its controversial education reforms. The EU has been training the Burmese police force.
As one of the main cheerleaders for President Thein Sein and his reform process, the British government has a special responsibility to act. Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond must get on the phone to President Thein Sein and make it clear that any further attacks and arrests of students and their supporters is unacceptable, and will have severe diplomatic consequences. He must tell President Thein Sein that British assistance to the Burmese government will stop.
Please email the Foreign Secretary calling on him to get on the phone now before it is too late, and lives are lost.
PS: British assistance to the Burmese government includes training and technical support and advice thought to be worth millions of pounds a year, but the British government does not publish a complete figure for the support they give the Burmese government. The cost of training to the Burmese Army alone is over £200,000 so far.