Activist Moe Thway to Face Charges for Unlawful Assembly

By Yen Saning 19 May 2015

RANGOON — Activist Moe Thway, a member of the pro-democracy group Generation Wave, said he will be charged with two counts of unlawful assembly for his participation in protests in Rangoon.

Moe Thway told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he was notified by Special Branch officers that the Kyauktada Township Police will seek charges against him for two separate demonstrations: one demanding justice for slain journalist Par Gyi, held last October; the other in support of student activists marching through central Burma, held in March.

Both demonstrations took place in front of Rangoon’s City Hall, and neither was permitted by local authorities. The charges both fall under the controversial Article 18 of Burma’s Peaceful Assembly Law, a provision penalizing participation in public gatherings that are not preapproved.

The activist said that he is traveling at the moment and “will deal with it when I am back.” The Kyauktada Court referral officer, Kyaw Moe, told The Irrawaddy that the case has not yet reached the court.

Moe Thway said that he and fellow demonstrator Nay Myo Zin had requested permission for the October protest but did not receive a reply from authorities. Some 200 activists congregated at City Hall nonetheless, including members of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, to demand justice for the killing of journalist Par Gyi, also known as Aung Kyaw Naing, while in military custody.

Moe Thway said he has been charged several times for activities related to his activism since 2012, estimating that he had attended more than 200 court hearings since that time. Court officials could not confirm this estimate. He was also jailed for one month in 2013, but was granted amnesty after serving 20 days in prison, he said.

Moe Thway warned that the jailing and intimidation of some of Burma’s most prominent activists could damage the government’s credibility.

“If they keep jailing and arresting us like this, the public and the international community won’t believe in the democratic transition. The government won’t have the cooperation of the public if the public doesn’t trust them,” Moe Thway said.