13 Peace Activists Charged in Burma

 

Activists march on Friday through Rangoon to mark the UN’s International Peace Day. (PHOTO: STEVE TICKNER/ THE IRRAWADDY)

Thirteen peace activists in Burma have been charged by police and could face jail time for leading marches to mark the UN’s International Peace Day without official permission.

The protest leaders have been charged under Article 18 of of the Assembly and Procession bylaw for staging a public gathering without official permission. Nine of the 13 were involved in Friday’s peaceful demonstration in Rangoon where up to 500 people marched from the City Hall to Inya Lake to protest the ongoing civil conflicts in Kachin State and other ethnic areas.

Four other activists were similarly charged for organizing an unauthorized protest in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. Marches were also held in Mandalay, Moulmein and other townships across the country, though no reports have surfaced of charges being brought against protesters.

The nine activists in Rangoon say they are astonished at the charges—they reportedly face trial and a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and 30,000 kyat (US $35) fine. However, as they are being charged on 10 accounts of breaking Article 18—due to the fact that they allegedly broke the law in each of the 10 townships that the demonstration passed through—they appear to be facing a maximum sentence of 10 years.

All nine activists have been ordered by each of the 10 township police stations to sign a pledge guaranteeing that they will appear before a judge if called upon.

One alleged organizer, Jaw Gum, from the Kachin Peace Network, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that he and fellow activist May Sapae Phyu have spent all day going from one police station to another signing police documents relating to their charges.

Speaking from Pazundaung Township police station on Monday afternoon, he said, “We have been to see the police chiefs of Sanchaung, Botahtaung and Tamwe townships [all in central Rangoon], and were told that we are being charged under Article 18 in each township.”

On Friday evening, Rangoon’s chief of police Myint Htwe told reporters at a press conference that, following the march to Inya Lake, those who led the protest will be charged with breaking Article 18 of the Assembly and Procession bylaw enacted in July.

One of the more prominent activists that was charged, Nay Myo Zin, a National League for Democracy (NLD) member and social worker who was formerly a political prisoner, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that he was obliged to sign pledges on Sunday at five police stations: Pazundaung, Botahtaung, Tamwe, Kyauktada and Mingalar Taung Nyunt townships.

The other activists charged in Rangoon were named as: Moe Thway, Khin Sandar Nyunt, Phway Yu Mon, Kyaw Bo Bo, Win Co and Wai Lu. The six said they were called on by police to sign pledges at 10 police stations: Kyauktada, Botahtaung, Tamwe, Pazundaung, Bahan, Sanchaung, Kyimyintai, Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Kamaryut and Hlaing townships, all in the central district of Rangoon.

Three of the other four activists who have been charged—named as Nay Myo, Bo Bo Han and Maung Maung of the 88 Generation Students group in Shan State—have been detained in Taunggyi at an unknown location since Friday, an 88 Generation spokesman, Zaw Min, told The Irrawaddy.

A fourth activist, Aung Thu, an NLD member in Taunggyi, told The Irrawaddy that he too had been similarly charged with breaking Article 18 as one of the organizers of the Taunggyi protest, however he had not been detained like the other 88 Generation students activists in Taunggyi.

Irrawaddy reporter Kyal Pyar contributed to this article.


7 Responses to 13 Peace Activists Charged in Burma

  1. For walking down the streets to mark the International Peace Day and asking the government to stop the injustice war on the ethnic minorities? Now tell me this is the Burma’s democracy the west has been praising about.  

  2. When we asked for peace, we were arrested and when we asked for changes in politic (Get out Sein Lwin!! in 8888), we were arrested. What should we do?

  3. Permit for Peaceful Demonstration or Protest? Very much undemocratic indeed. Instead, all these arrested must be released immediately, and we the people must be guaranteed that this kind of undemocratic behavior never ever happen again in the Union of Myanmar. Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Gathering must must be free without intimidation from the police or any other government organization.

  4. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The streets of Burma belong to the
    people and it can be used as the people wish to.  The charges
    against those peaceful demonstrators are completely in violation of the right
    to freedom of assembly and expression. This kind of demonstration which
    permission request was denied by the respective authorities is very normal in
    any democratic countries.     
    Drop the non-sense, unjust charges against peaceful demonstrators!

     

    There should be a room for
    non-violence to deal over different opinion should we all want to live in
    peaceful society. Don’t repeat the mistakes that have been going on for the last 6
    decades.  Don’t provoke the people to
    derail in their non-violent path. 

    The time has come for a change and the
    authority has to get used to it. This is what democracy looks like. No more
    room for all the unjust charges and don’t think that your power abuses against
    the people will get away like in the old time. Democracy will only prevail as
    long as the people who took on the streets of Burma keep doing what they have
    been doing in a non-violent way.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter 

  5. I remember a few weeks ago some posters on here expressing sentiments on curfew breaking and other ‘illegal’ activities in Rakhine State. They made statements such as “the law is the law – if you break it you must be punished”. What’s their opinion on this?

    Full support from me for all those brave men and women who marched for peace.

  6. What kind of democracy is this where any mention of peace brings forth imprisonment. If these peace activists could be charged with Article 18, the military forces fighting the KIA could also be charged with martial law since they did not follow the presidential order. The government ought to first consider taking actions against the military forces who violate the law before it goes on to sue these activists.  

  7. It is the reality of Myanmar !! How can we say that it is Democracy and improvement in Myanmar!!! I wonder how the police dear to do to the people who demostrate for peace…
    Actually, the police must support to them becasue it is the reason they wear the Police Uniform… which is for peace and prosperity of the community….   They must shame on weaing the Uniforms…  They are just like slaves who don’t know their right and responsibilites and the reason for their existing….. Pity Police Men…. Shame on You…..

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