Photo by Reuters.

Photo by Reuters.

The Myanmar Police Force launched a brutal crackdown on students and activists protesting in Letpadan yesterday, around 140 kilometres from Yangon.

The protestors are rallying against a new National Education Law, which passed into law after being approved in September 2014.

The police, some 500-strong, ferociously beat protestors, monks and journalists with batons. Myanmar’s Information Minister and presidential spokesman said 127 people had been arrested.

To get a sense of what this means for Myanmar’s ongoing political and social reforms, I spoke with an anonymous person in Yangon yesterday.

This is what they had to say:

“I’ve lost hope with the government.

“I thought things were going to change and get better. I kept quiet because I didn’t want to be seen as taking sides.

“Sometimes I want to leave the country. I think I’ll be happy elsewhere.

“Nobody is asking me to do my work. I’m only doing it because I’m Burmese.

“Everyone is waiting for a fair election. Based on what we’ve seen in the last 24 hours, how fair can we have a fair election?

“The image that’s been building over the past few years is eroding away, and international donors to Myanmar will change their attitudes soon.

“Sure, Thein Sein was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize. But he has no accountability.

Who’s in charge? Who’s giving these orders? What’s going on in Naypyitaw?”

And so the world still watches and waits, to see if Myanmar, in this historic election year, will deepen its reform efforts or regress to its authoritarian past.

Olivia Cable is with the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University. Twitter: @ojcable.