Anti-War Protesters in Yangon Detained, Sued, Released on Bail

By Zarni Mann 14 May 2018

MANDALAY — Eight people detained in Yangon on Saturday at a protest calling for an end to fighting between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups were sued for violating the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law and released on bail on Sunday.

Ko Tin Htut Paing, one of the arrested protesters, said they signed documents promising to attend their trial when summoned.

Police in Bahan Township filed the lawsuit under Article 20 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, which covers disturbing the peace and carries a maximum penalty of a month in jail and a fine of 10,000 kyats ($7.49).

Ko Tin Htut Paing said about 200 people joined Saturday’s protest in Tamwe Township, shouting slogans and waving signs, and that some of them were attacked by police as soon as it was over.

“Shortly after the protest ended, the police tried to arrest us. Some police, including people in plain clothes, stormed into the crowd and hit the protesters,” he said.

“I was a bit far from the area. But when I saw the clash I shouted at them to stop, and suddenly two men in plain clothes came and hit me and threw me onto a vehicle with the other detained protesters.”

According to The New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper, Bahan police denied beating the protesters and said they were arrested in accordance with the law.

Police records show that the eight detained protesters included Ma Shar Yamon, Ma Thinzar Shoon Lei Yee, Ma Ei Ei Moe, Ko Tin Htut Paing, Ko Moe Thwe, Ko Zeyar Lwin, Ko Lin Htet Naing and Maung Saung Kha, a well-known poet and former political prisoner.

Separately, police in Mandalay arrested two people for allegedly participating in a protest there last week calling for an end to clashes in Kachin State and help for hundreds of villagers trapped by the fighting.

Reporters saw police in plain clothes arrest Ko Than Htike and Ko Thet Hnin Aung in a shopping area while they were handing out surveys to find out how locals felt about the fighting and the overall peace process.

Both men were on a list of alleged protesters being sued under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law. A court in Aung Myay Thar Zan Township on Monday gave police permission to hold them in prison and scheduled a hearing for next week.

Protests against the fighting in Kachin have escalated since a protest camp was set up in the state capital, Myitkyina, a few weeks ago. Though the camp has since been abandoned, protests have spread to Yangon, Mandalay and Pyay Township in Bago Region.

A total of six alleged protesters are being sued in Mandalay and two in Pyay.