Myanmar student protest
Myanmar riot police confront students during a protest march in Letpadan town AFP

Hundreds of students protesting in Myanmar have defied orders from police to disperse. Riot police surrounded around 300 people in the town of Letpadan on 3 March to stop them from proceeding with a march on the city of Yangon.

The students began the protest march in January over the prospect of a national education bill that they say will curb academic freedoms in Myanmar.

Many of the protesters chanted "we are unified" as they continued with a sit-in protest at a monastery compound, according to AFP news agency.

The students, who have been joined by a handful of monks, were encircled by security forces on 2 March when they had planned to continue the march. They had stopped to camp in Letpadan at the end of February after a round of negotiations with the government.

Police warned they would act to "restore law and order" if the students continued the march towards Yangon.

Water canon vehicles arrived at the scene, according to the Associated Press news agency, as well as trucks filled with riot gear. The police deadline of Tuesday afternoon passed without incident.

"Our students don't want a crackdown, we're not worried about ourselves. If they crackdown it means the government turns a blind eye to the democratic education system we demand," student leader Kyaw Ko Ko told AFP.

The students have argued that the education bill centralises control over institutions of higher education and is undemocratic.