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Myanmar police charge at student protesters with batons

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Hundreds of riot police charged at students protesting Myanmar's new education law on Tuesday, pummeling them with batons and then dragging them into trucks, bringing a quick, harsh end to a weeklong standoff - reported the AP.

Police threw stones and jumped over fences as they broke up the demonstration. Some students and monks were chased into a Buddhist monastery, said Honey Oo, a student leader.

"Many people were beaten and several arrested," she said by telephone.

Deputy police chief Col. Win Sein said 114 people were detained and several students and police had been injured, but none seriously.

After the crackdown, police were seen celebrating and shouting, "Victory! Victory!"

Myanmar only recently began moving from a half-century of brutal military rule toward democracy. But the nominally civilian government installed four years ago has been grappling with the consequences of newfound freedoms of expression. It has been especially sensitive about public protests, arresting hundreds of people since taking office for peacefully expressing their views.

In November, around a hundred students started protesting a new law that puts all decisions about education policy and curriculum in the hands of a group largely made up of government ministers, which critics say undermines the autonomy of universities.

They have been joined by monks and other activists, bringing their number to around 200 in the last nine days, when they started a sit-in on a road near a monastery in Letpadan, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) north of Yangon, the country's biggest city.

They wanted to march to Yangon, but security forces blocked them, forming a human chain and setting up barbed wire barriers.

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Reporter: Kovásznai-Szász Réka
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