Me Me, a prominent rights activist, has decided to remain in prison rather than pay a fine regarding charges of violating Article 18 of Burma’s Peaceful Assembly Law.
The veteran of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society appeared in court in Rangoon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township on Wednesday, announcing that she had decided to stay in jail, calling the charges against her “unacceptable.” She refused to pay a fine and has not hired a lawyer or requested a release from detention.
She is accused of organizing a protest last year on Nov. 4 in Rangoon, where she demanded that Burma’s controversial National Education Law be amended. Police arrested her on the basis that she did not have permission to protest.
“Their charges are unacceptable. There should be no such this charge as our country [undergoes] political reform. [Article 18] blocks our people’s desire to express themselves,” Me Me said.
Frequently used to imprison activists, Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law dictates jail sentences of up to six months for individuals found guilty of participating in an unlawful protest.
More than a dozen activists in Rangoon have been detained and charged under Article 18 this year for their participation in protests as far back as 2014, said lawyer Robert San Aung.
There are currently 88 political prisoners behind bars in Burma and 412 political activists awaiting trial, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an organization which advocates for their release.