Electricity Hike Opponents Face Charges for Illegal Mandalay Protest

A candle-wielding protestor against the government’s electricity rate increase confronts police in Mandalay on Monday. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY — Four activists here who oppose a government electricity rate hike are facing criminal charges after staging an unauthorized protest last week, while other protestors saw their demonstration cut short by police on Monday night.

Thein Aung Myint, Saw Hla Aung, Kyaw Myo Tun and Khet Khet Tin, who say they were brutally detained by police after staging a candle-lit protest in Mandalay on Thursday, were charged on Tuesday with violating Article 18 of the controversial Peaceful Assembly Law.

“The authorities said we are charged under Article 18 because we did not have a permit to protest,” said Thein Aung Myint, who was released on bail Monday after four days in detention.

The activists said they applied for the permit, as required under Article 18, but were denied permission to protest by local authorities.

“We oppose the brutal acts toward those who protested peacefully. We just wanted to send a message to the government that people disapprove of the electricity price hike, because the impact of this will be the hiking of basic commodity prices as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, another candle protest march on Monday in Mandalay was quashed by local police, who intercepted three activists on their way to the site of the planned protest.

“We applied to protest in front of the Divisional Electricity Supply Office, but did not get the permission and the police even stopped us halfway [to the planned protest site],” said Toe Gyi, who organized the scuppered protest.

“While protests in Rangoon have been allowed, I wonder why Mandalay authorities are so afraid of the protests,” he added, referring to a candle-lit demonstration in Rangoon on Wednesday of last week, which was allowed to proceed with no arrests made.

Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law requires that permission from local authorities be granted in advance of any protest. Violators can face up to one year in prison, or a maximum fine of 30,000 kyats (US$30).

On March 19, Parliament approved a government proposal to increase electricity prices, starting on April 1.

Under the new plan, households using under 100 kilowatt hours, or units, per month, have seen the rate remain at 35 kyats per unit, but the price has increased to 40 kyats per unit for usage from 101 and 200 units in a month, and to 50 kyats for those using more than 200 units.

For businesses, the basic charge for those using less than 500 units per month is unchanged at 75 kyats per kilowatt hour. But large consumers using over 500 units will pay 150 kyats per unit above the 500 threshold.

One Response to Electricity Hike Opponents Face Charges for Illegal Mandalay Protest

  1. Some Mandalay writers should go out to help those illegal protestors in the aspect of high electricity fee rate instead of blaming Chinese in the aspect of buying lands and properties in Mandalay. At the same time, those writers should ask or warn the Chinese not to buy lands and properties in Mandalay due to the hot, air/mosquito-polluted expansive Mandalay city’s lands and properties. Then, DASSK is not be kept busy by those naive Mandalay writers who want to stir up the racial discrimination with the slogan of nationalism, Buddhisnization and bamanization.
    See the recent notorious scenario to lean how the Chinese ordinary people are victims of missing flight.
    Pilot (some Mandalay writers) and co-pilot (USDP) are fighting each other in the flight cockpit in the aspect of political issue (i.e one opposition leader is jailed for sodomy alleged undemocratically ) in their own country.
    Then, one was killed by other in the cockpit. Then, the killer is nowhere to go so try to enjoy flying with high speed to end his life in the deadly ocean ( try to cover the all killing clues) instead of receiving punishment of life imprisonment or death penalty in their country in Murder charge. Co-pilot is very much related to the high ranging government. So, the government misled the information that co-pilot acts properly such as his last words are ” Everything is all right and good night”. Today, it is not the case or words from co-pilot, announced by government when Chinese side wants to listen the transcript of the conversation between flight and flight control tower.
    Unfortunately, the majority of the passengers in the flight are ordinary Chinese. Please, DASSK without military power and we, ordinary local Chinese do not want to be involved in your writers’ immature political issue ( not want to be passengers, victims in this kind of missing flight), first stirred by fox than shwe (racial/religious slogan) in the killing local Muslim with the help of Buddhisnization psy wirathu.
    Around the world, particularly, rich Chinese are buying lands and properties in UK, US, Canada and Australia and those are not big issues in those countries in the slogan of equal and fair opportunity as well as gaining benefit of multi-culturalism. Racial discrimination is serious crime in Australia.
    Those naive writers should go to abroad with the help of DASSK to learn what are the people in Thailandnese who accept 100% blood Thanlandnese beautiful Yingluck as their democratically elected PM without any racial discrimination.
    How many illegal Burmese migrants are now working in Thailand for survival. Also learn how many Thailandnese forget about the Bama kings’ invasion to them in history as well. Then, those naive Mandalay writers will know how to shout their voice to pay more attention to abolish 2008 Nargic constitution (bama military favored) instead of blar, blar in Burmese.
    Thein sein, not DASSK should consider seriously how to re-start the building of power stations in Kachin areas with the sole decision of Kachin people or in Mandalay with the help of rich Chinese if U pie and than shwe do not want to vomit their stolen money (Chinese side payment) to ordinary Burmese from their Singapore banks.

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