More than 125,000 school teachers in Myanmar have been suspended by the military authorities for joining a civil disobedience movement to oppose the military coup in February, an official of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation said.
The suspensions have come days before the start of a new school year, which some teachers and parents are boycotting as part of the campaign that has paralysed the country since the coup cut short a decade of democratic reforms.
A total of 125,900 school teachers had been suspended as of Saturday, said the official of the teachers’ federation, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals. He is already on the junta’s wanted list on charges of inciting disaffection.
Myanmar had 430,000 school teachers according to the most recent data, from two years ago.
“These are just statements to threaten people to come back to work. If they actually fire this many people, the whole system will stop,” said the official, who is also a teacher. He said he had been told that the charges he faces would be dropped if he returns.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper has called on teachers and students to return to schools to get the education system started again.
The disruption at schools echoes that in the health sector and across government and private business since the Southeast Asian country was plunged into chaos by the coup and the arrest of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Around 19,500 university staff have also been suspended, according to the teachers’ group.