World

Students face off against hundreds of Myanmar police on major road to country's capital

  • Student protesters wearing traditional Burmese hats shout slogans during a sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    Student protesters wearing traditional Burmese hats shout slogans during a sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters of student protesters applaud while watching their sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    Supporters of student protesters applaud while watching their sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, March 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

  • Student protesters wear masks to protect from dust during a sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Mar. 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    Student protesters wear masks to protect from dust during a sit-in in Letpadan, north of Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Mar. 3. 2015. Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Myanmar's biggest city.

The demonstrators — who have been rallying for more than a month and gaining public sympathy — want the government to scrap a newly passed education law that they say curbs academic freedom.

They were outnumbered by police in the town of Letpadan, but neither side appears willing to back down. Security forces formed rows around the students four layers deep.

Myanmar started moving from a half-century of military rule toward democracy in 2011, but critics say the reforms that marked President Thein Sein's early days in office have either stalled or the government has been retreating on them.