RANGOON — Four people assisting with the organization of a National League for Democracy (NLD) procession have been charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law in Monywa.
Aung Nay Myo and three others joined more than 100 trishaw drivers to ride around the Sagaing Division city on Saturday, bearing flags and shirts with the NLD’s fighting peacock logo to show their support for the opposition party. All three have been charged under Article 18 of the law, which carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.
“The case was filed on Sunday by township police chief Sein Min, as they didn’t seek official permission for the procession,” Monywa police chief Pyone Lwin told the Irrawaddy, adding that the event was not organized by the NLD.
Aung Nay Myo said he and his associates did not plan the event but helped to provide the trishaw drivers with campaign materials.
“We didn’t apply for permission as we were not the organizers,” he said. “The procession was planned by trishaw drivers who wanted to show their support for the NLD. They asked for our assistance.”
A freelance photographer, Aung Nay Myo was briefly detained by police at the end of February for sharing a satirical photo on Facebook that mocked military and political leaders for the Kokang conflict, which had erupted earlier that month. He has been active in supporting the NLD campaign in Monywa.
Fellow accused Nay Thiha, a campaign staffer for the Sagaing Division NLD office, said he did not believe he would have been charged if the trishaw drivers were rallying in support of “the other party”, a reference to the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
“I just helped them. Why am accused of this? I didn’t join the procession, I took pictures of it,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Aung Nay Myo said that the trishaw drivers participating in Saturday’s procession had not been charged.
“I don’t know why we are accused of violating Article 18 while the main participants are free,” he said.
The two other accused are local student activists.