The Irrawaddy

5 Karenni Men Sentenced Under Peaceful Assembly Law

Protesters gather in Loikaw, Karenni State on Dec. 22 to condemn the military’s alleged execution of four people including three KNPP soldiers two weeks earlier.

YANGON — A local court in Karenni State sentenced five Karenni men, who staged a protest against the Tatmadaw’s alleged execution of four people, to 20 days in prison on Friday.

The five, members of the Union of Karenni State Youth (UKSY) and the Karenni State Farmers Union, on Dec. 22, led a protest in Loikaw against the alleged execution of three Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) soldiers and a civilian two days earlier.

On Jan. 2, Loikaw Township police station charged the five with violating the Peaceful Assembly Law.

After four trials, the court ordered the five to pay a fine or to be imprisoned for 20 days, and the five chose to go to prison.

“This shows that there is no rule of law. They opted for imprisonment rather than the fine. They chose the imprisonment because they did it [staging the protest] for the sake of rule of law as the duty of citizens who love truth,” said Khu Tu Reh, chairman of the Karenni Farmers Union.

Four civil society representatives resigned from the Karenni State Parliament’s complaints-handling committee on Jan. 11, saying that they resigned to protest the state government and Parliament’s silence over the alleged executions and the unjust charging of five Karenni men who protested the alleged killings.

The violation of Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, for staging a rally without the prior approval of authorities, carries up to three months’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of 30,000 kyats.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.